Commonwealth Caribbean countries move towards implementing UNCAT: workshop report out
Today, the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI), REDRESS and the Commonwealth Secretariat release a report on the “Online Technical Workshop for Commonwealth Caribbean Countries on UNCAT: Sharing Experiences of Ratification, Legislative Reform and Reporting”, held online via Zoom on 1-3 December 2020, and kindly hosted by the Government of Grenada and the Government of Chile, a CTI Core State.
There were 40 participants overall in the workshop, including representatives from nine Caribbean countries*, alongside speakers from the UN Committee against Torture, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the co-organisers, and government and other experts on torture prevention and frameworks, and legislative drafting. The event was opened by Hon. Oliver Joseph, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and CARICOM Affairs of Grenada, H.E. Carolina Valdivia, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile and Dr. Jens Modvig, Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture and closed by H.E. Ramses Joseph Cleland, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN in Geneva and H.E. Frank Tressler, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the UN in Geneva.
After three days of interactive discussions and practical exercises, participants committed to raising workshop outcomes with relevant authorities, including recommendations for ratification and legislative reform; replicating similar UNCAT trainings at the national level; using data collection tools; and establishing National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up (NMRIFs).
The report outlines the main take-aways of the discussions, including:
- The benefits of ratification and implementation of UNCAT;
- the fact that implementation is not required prior to ratifying UNCAT;
- the need for broad stakeholder consultation prior to UNCAT ratification and implementation;
- the fact that implementation goes beyond passing legislation, and involves enhancing national practices, including amongst law enforcement agents;
- the importance of involving civil society actors in the reporting process.
The commitments made and the recent moves towards further ratifications and stronger implementation in the Caribbean are encouraging and point towards achieving UNCAT regional universality in the near future.
CTI, REDRESS and the Commonwealth Secretariat offer their support and advice to participating countries.
The Seminar Report can be downloaded here.
* Participating Commonwealth Caribbean States were Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Suriname (not a Commonwealth member) was also in attendance.