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Geneva, 25 October 2019: Yesterday, the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) briefed government officials of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the UN Convention against Torture and its key provisions.
CTI’s briefing, organised for visiting government officials taking part in the Fellowship programme of the “UN Trust Fund to Support the Participation of LDCs and SIDS in the UN Human Rights Council”, took place at the CTI’s office in Geneva. Angola, the Marshall Islands, Saint Kitts & Nevis and Saint Lucia were represented, and two of CTI’s Core States, Denmark and Fiji, shared their own government’s positive experiences, as well as challenges, of ratifying and implementing the Convention.
Denmark, as one of the earliest States to become a party to the Convention in 1987, emphasised that UNCAT allowed for progressive and continual improvement, allowing time for States to bring their laws, policies and practices into line with its provisions. The successive dialogues with the UN Committee against Torture, the body of 10 independent members who review – periodically – State submitted reports, were credited with having instigated national discussions on a range of needed reforms, including the establishment of Denmark’s Independent Police Complaints Authority. Fiji, which ratified UNCAT in 2016, highlighted two early measures taken to improve safeguards against torture and ill-treatment in relation to police custody, including Fiji’s pilot “first hour procedure”, a project being rolled out in Suva, guaranteeing the legal representation of suspects immediately after their arrest and the notification of their rights, as well as the video recording of police interviews. Fiji also commented that it is benefiting from international cooperation and support prior to and since it ratified the Convention.
Sessions were also presented by the CTI Secretariat on the substantive and procedural provisions of the Convention, as well as relevant steps in the ratification process. Participants and speakers actively discussed their own experiences and challenges, and best approaches to ratification, implementation and report writing. The CTI Secretariat clarified the scope and meaning of various Convention obligations, and explained about the support available from the CTI.
For more information on the experiences of Fiji, please read our Fiji blog, here.