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Press releases Treaty bodies


28 April 2005

Committee against Torture

28 April 2005

Experts to Consider Reports of Togo, Canada,
Switzerland, Finland, Albania, Uganda and Bahrain

The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 2 to 20 May 2005 to review measures adopted by Togo, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Albania, Uganda and Bahrain to prevent and punish acts of torture. Representatives of the seven countries are expected to come before the Committee to defend national efforts to implement the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

During the three-week session, the Committee’s 10 Independent Experts will consider, in closed session, information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is systematically being practiced in some States parties; and complaints from individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by a State party of the provisions of the Convention.

The Committee was established in 1987 to monitor compliance with the Convention and to assist States parties in implementing its provisions.

Togo, Albania, Uganda and Bahrain are presenting initial reports to the Committee. Canada is presenting its fourth and fifth periodic reports, and Switzerland and Finland are presenting their fourth periodic reports. The Committee's conclusions and recommendations on the third periodic report of Canada, considered in November 2000, can be found in document A/56/44, paras. 54-59. Its conclusions on the third periodic report of Switzerland, reviewed in November 1997, can be found in document A/53/44, paras. 80-100. And the Committee's recommendations on the third periodic report of Finland, which was taken up in November 1999, can be found in document A/55/44, paras. 51-55. These documents are available at the following web address:

Background on Convention and Committee

The Convention, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in 1984, entered into force on 26 June 1987. States parties to the Convention are required to outlaw torture and are explicitly prohibited from using "higher orders" or "exceptional circumstances" as excuses for acts of torture. The Convention introduced two significant new elements to the United Nations fight against torture. First, it specifies that alleged torturers may be tried in any State party or they may be extradited to face trial in the State party where their crimes were committed. Second, under article 20, it provides for investigation of reliable reports of torture, including visits to the State party concerned, with its agreement, if the Committee receives reliable information, which appears to contain well-founded indications, that torture is being systematically practiced in the territory of a State party.

Under article 21, a State party to the Convention may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State party claims that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention.

Under article 22, a State party to the Convention may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from, or on behalf of, individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by a State party of the provisions of the Convention.

The Convention has been ratified or acceded to by the following 139 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.

The following 51 States have recognized the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela. In addition, Japan, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 21 only. Azerbaijan, Burundi, Guatemala, Mexico and Seychelles have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 22 only.

Other United Nations Activities against Torture

In addition to preventive measures, the United Nations has taken action to come to the aid of torture victims. In 1981 the General Assembly set up the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Torture. The Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly appealed to all Governments, organizations and individuals in a position to do so to contribute to the Fund in order to allow it to respond to the constantly increasing number of requests for assistance.

Membership and Officers

The Committee's members are elected by the States parties to the Convention and serve in their personal capacity. The current members of the Committee are: Guibril Camara (Senegal); Sayed Kassem el Masry (Egypt); Felice Gaer (the United States); Claudio Grossman (Chile); Fernando Mariño Menendez (Spain); Andreas Mavrommatis (Cyprus); Julio Prado Vallejo (Ecuador); Ole Vedel Rasmussen (Denmark); and Alexander M. Yakovlev (Russian Federation).

At the first meeting, the Committee will hear its newly appointed member Wang Xuexian (China) make a solemn declaration to perform his duties and exercise his powers as a member of the Committee against Torture honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously.

Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports

In ratifying or acceding to the Convention, States are obliged to submit reports on the measures they have taken to implement its provisions. States are invited to send representatives to attend the meetings during which their reports are considered. For this session, the Committee has drawn up the following provisional timetable for the consideration of reports:

Tuesday, 3 May

Morning Togo: initial report CAT/C/5/Add.33

Wednesday, 4 May

Morning Canada: fourth and fifth periodic reports CAT/C/55/Add.82;
Afternoon Togo (continued)

Friday, 6 May

Morning Switzerland: fourth periodic report CAT/C/55/Add.9
Afternoon Canada (continued)

Monday, 9 May

Morning Finland: fourth periodic report CAT/C/67/Add.1
Afternoon Switzerland (continued)

Tuesday, 10 May

Morning Albania: initial report CAT/C/28/Add.6
Afternoon Finland (continued)

Wednesday, 11 May

Morning Uganda: initial report CAT/C/5/Add.32
Afternoon Albania (continued)

Thursday, 12 May

Morning Bahrain: initial report CAT/C/47/Add.4
Afternoon Uganda (continued)

Friday, 13 May

Afternoon Bahrain (continued)
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This press release is not an official record and is provided for public information only.