A push for UNCAT ratification in the Pacific – CTI event report published
Geneva, 17 January 2017 – The report of the regional seminar held in Natadola, Fiji, on 27-28 October 2016 is now available.
The seminar hosted by the CTI and the Government of Fiji with the support of the Universal Rights Group and the Association for the Prevention of Torture brought together representatives from 10 Pacific Island States (Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), international anti-torture experts, CTI core States and CTI Friends.
Focusing on ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and its subsequent implementation in the Pacific region, lively discussions took place over the two days and many good practices were shared between UNCAT non-States parties and States that have already ratified the Convention. Being a region of generally strong democratic and rule of law traditions, there was widespread support for ratifying UNCAT. The main obstacle to doing so revolved around human and technical capacity.
The report identifies several benefits of ratification, in particular ratification was seen as an opportunity to review national priorities and capacities and to improve or update existing laws, regulations, policies, procedures and practices in various areas, including in the law enforcement and detention sectors. It was emphasised that UNCAT is a treaty that directly impacts the rule of law, good governance, effective law enforcement, and criminal justice; and in turn can promote economic investment and growth, tourism, and political stability. Ratification has in the experience of some States led to offers of technical and other support from the international community.
On the issue of implementation, the report highlights good practices and how to overcome challenges on reforming national legislative frameworks and supporting effective criminal investigation and prosecution. The issue of reporting to the UN Committee against Torture (and other human rights bodies) was a returning matter as several Pacific Island States faced backlogs of overdue periodic reports. However, the event report highlights several good practices of Small Island Developing States, from inside and outside the region, on how to overcome this particular challenge. It was also observed that reporting provides an opportunity for a body of international experts to share their views and provide helpful advice on national policies and practices.
Finally, the report outlines recommendations and possible next steps drawn from the discussions for the Pacific Island States to consider in their ratification and implementation processes ahead. The CTI is immensely grateful to the Government of Fiji for their excellent hosting of this event and their leadership in this area. CTI, along with its partners, looks forward to supporting Pacific States in these endeavours.
The report is available in English here.