CTI briefing to Organization of American States raises awareness on benefits of ratifying and implementing the UN Convention against Torture
On 23 June 2021, CTI briefed the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. to raise awareness on the benefits of ratifying and implementing the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). The CTI online briefing was put on the agenda by the Permanent Mission of Chile to the OAS in commemoration of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and as part of CTI’s work supporting countries to ratify and implement UNCAT in Latin America and the Caribbean, where seven States are yet to become parties to the Convention.
Marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, and recognising its importance for the region to redress past turbulent history, the CTI briefing was delivered by Dr. Alice Edwards, Head of the CTI Secretariat and Dr. Claudio Grossman, Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the American University Washington College of Law and former Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture. Their interventions raised awareness about CTI’s work and constructive approach in supporting States to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Torture and shed light on some of the key obligations States have under the Convention and its regional sister treaty, the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.
Speaking about some of the main benefits that UNCAT ratification can bring about domestically, Dr. Edwards underlined how becoming party to the Convention can catalyse domestic reforms that may not otherwise enjoy particular momentum, for example, in the justice sector or in law enforcement practice. She further called on OAS Member States to join the Convention, inspired by the positive experiences of The Bahamas, Grenada and Saint Kitts as recent UNCAT States parties.
UNCAT is the most significant international human rights treaty that deals with torture and pushes for its total eradication through a framework of domestic reforms including criminalization of torture, investigation and prosecution, training, procedural review, and remedies for victims.Dr. Alice Edwards, Head of CTI Secretariat, briefing the OAS Permanent Council on the importance of UNCAT
Professor Grossman underscored the need for States to understand the main factors contributing to the prevalence of torture and ill-treatment and emphasised the importance of providing training on the prohibition to public officials, such as police and law enforcement, the State’s duty to investigate and punish perpetrators, and to prevent and respond to incidents of torture and ill-treatment when these occur.
The celebration of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a call to action: we can act in the face of human rights violations and we can act with International Law. An essential instrument is the Convention against Torture, both the universal and the hemispheric one.Professor Claudio Grossman, former Chairperson of the Committee against Torture, CTI Expert Friend and Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus of the American University Washington College of Law
During an interactive discussion with participating OAS Member States, H.E. Issa Kort, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the OAS underscored how UNCAT allowed his country to criminalise torture, embark on criminal justice reform and support transitional justice efforts. Calling on all remaining non-States-parties in Latin America and the Caribbean, Ambassador Kort added:
We do not want to repeat those traumatic situations of the past. An important step in that process is to ensure that we all join the Convention and become part of it.H.E. Issa Kort, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the OAS
Adding their voices and echoing the call for all Latin American and Caribbean States to join the global fight against torture and become parties to the Convention, six participating OAS Member States (Grenada, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay) in addition to Chile, took the floor to commemorate International Day in Support of Torture Victims, support CTI’s vision and underline the importance of guaranteeing redress and reparation for torture victims. Among them, H.E. Yolande Yvonne Smith, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the OAS thanked CTI for the support given towards ratification of the Convention and highlighted how CTI’s regional seminars provide a hub for cross-regional experience-sharing on ways to overcome challenges to UNCAT ratification and implementation.
To learn more about the experiences of The Bahamas and Grenada in UNCAT ratification and implementation, read our States parties in focus country blogs here: https://cti2024.org/resources-for-states/states-experiences-in-focus/.
CTI’s Advice Hub can be contacted confidentially for technical advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The session of the Permanent Council can be re-watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiA3qy4j5qg.