Skip to main content

Special Rapporteur on torture

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

About the mandate

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1985/33, decided to appoint an expert for one year, a special rapporteur, to examine questions relevant to torture. Since 1985, the mandate has been renewed regularly and extended to 3 years, most recently by Human Rights Council resolution 52/7 in April 2023.

The mandate covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The mandate comprises three main activities:

  1. transmitting urgent appeals to States with regard to individuals reported to be at risk of torture, as well as communications on past alleged cases of torture;

  2. undertaking fact-finding country visits; and
  3. submitting annual reports on activities, the mandate and methods of work to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Unlike the complaints mechanisms of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies, the Special Rapporteur does not require the exhaustion of domestic remedies to act. When the facts in question come within the scope of more than one mandate established by the Commission, the Special Rapporteur may decide to approach other thematic mechanisms and country rapporteurs with a view to sending joint communications or seeking joint missions.

Current mandate holder

Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment © Cordula Treml

Dr. Alice Jill Edwards (Australia) is the seventh – and first woman – UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. Her appointment was announced on 8 July 2022 and her tenure begins on 1 August. A highly skilled lawyer, scholar and negotiator, Dr. Edwards has an established record of sustained engagement on behalf of victims of human rights violations and of critical contributions to the development of standards in international law.

Read Dr. Alice Jill Edwards’s full biography.

Contact Information

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix 1211
Genève 10, Switzerland
Email: [email protected]

Former mandate holders:


Mr. Nils Melzer
(Switzerland), 2016 - 2022

Mr. Juan Méndez
(Argentina), 2010-2016

Mr. Manfred Nowak
(Austria), 2004-2010

Mr. Theo van Boven
(Netherlands), 2001-2004

Sir. Nigel S. Rodley
(United Kingdom), 1993-2001

Sr. Peter Kooijmans
(Netherlands), 1985-1993

Videos


Keynote: Australia’s Place And Performance in the Global Struggle Against Torture
21 July 2023
Watch on YouTube

Video statement of the Special Rapporteur on torture at an event organised by the National Council for Human Rights and the General Directorate for National Security in Morocco, on “standards and practices for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during arrest, interrogation and custody”, which took place on 20 September 2022, at the Police Academy in Kénitra.
Watch on Vimeo


Keynote address by the Special Rapporteur on Torture at the Australian National OPCAT Symposium
9 September 2022
Watch on YouTube

View more videos