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High level event hears testimony from UN experts and torture survivors

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Geneva, 3 March 2015 - The CTI has held a high level event at the Palais de Nations during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council on how to reach universal ratification and implementation of the UNCAT, attended by more than 100 participants from states, civil society organizations and the UN.

The meeting was moderated by Director of OHCHR’s Human Rights Treaties Division, Ibrahim Salama and key notes were delivered by UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, and torture survivor and co-founder of Survivors Speak OUT Network, Kolbassia Haoussou.

Mr Simonovic welcomed the CTI initiative and noted that its launch was particularly appropriate at a time when the use of torture was being increasingly justified, especially in the context of fighting terrorism.

Mr. Haoussou stressed that ratification followed by meaningful implementation of the UNCAT was essential to shatter the culture of impunity and called for the inclusion of survivors of torture in the fight against torture.

Vietnam – the newest State party to the UNCAT – informed participants about their ratification process while Uganda shared experiences on the domestication of UNCAT into national legislation.

On the issue of regional strategies and activities, the five States behind the CTI informed participants about ratification and implementation challenges from their respective regions and presented concrete plans for coming regional CTI activities.

The Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Martin Lidegaard stressed that,

“there was still a long way to go in the fight against torture for those states that still need to ratify but also for those states that continue to face problems in terms of implementation of the Convention. The strength, relevance and value of the CTI had in this regard been unequivocally cemented during the discussions. The CTI vision of universal ratification and implementation was ambitious, but it was achievable.”

During an open debate, CAT Member, Jens Modvig, reminded the audience “that while many good developments had happened in the 30 year lifespan of the UNCAT – some current ones included the on-going treaty body strengthening process at institutional level as well as the launch of the CTI at inter-governmental level – torture was still a widely used practice and much still needed to be done.”

A full report of the event is available here.

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