Recommendations to ratify Convention against Torture dominated at UPR37
Geneva, 4 February 2021 – From 18 to 29 January 2021, the 37th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place in Geneva. The ratification of UNCAT and other core human rights treaties was one of the major themes of the session.
The UPR is one of the main events of the UN Human Rights Council, mobilising delegations three times a year, to enquire and exchange on human rights-related developments and progress that States under review have made over the preceding five-year period, and to make recommendations to help them improve treaty ratification and implementation, as well as meeting broader human rights and development goals.
The UPR session in January was the second time that States participated remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fourteen (14) States were reviewed,* and the session was chaired by the new President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Nazhat Shameem Khan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN in Geneva, also a CTI Core State.
Of the States under review, three (3) are not parties to the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT), namely the Federated States of Micronesia, the Union Republic of Myanmar and Saint Lucia, though each reported on progress towards meeting that goal. Collectively they received 73 recommendations to ratify UNCAT from 47 participating delegations.** Another four (4) States that are yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to UNCAT (Nepal, Oman, São Tomé & Príncipe, Saint Kitts & Nevis) were encouraged to do so.
Saint Lucia, a State which recently participated in CTI’s online regional technical workshop for Commonwealth Caribbean countries held in December 2020, underlined in its national UPR report the benefits of its cooperation with CTI in view of the ratification of UNCAT:
Though Saint Lucia has not ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), relevant government officials have however participated in seminars hosted by the Convention Against Torture (CTI) [sic] Group of Friends in 2016, 2018 and 2020. These seminars were conducted in order to ensure that relevant public officials acquired sufficient knowledge with the aim of ratification, implementation and reporting on the UNCAT. The GOSL intends to build on its participation in these seminars and continue, through its National Coordinating Committee for Human Rights, to facilitate national sensitisation regarding the eventual signature and ratification of the UNCAT.
Widespread praise was given to four (4) States under review, namely Australia, Oman, São Tomé & Príncipe and Saint Kitts & Nevis, which had ratified either the Convention against Torture or its Optional Protocol since their last review.
Other recommendations related to prevention and response to torture and ill-treatment touched on issues such as rule of law and administration of justice, criminal justice reform, including on police and prisons, human trafficking and gender-based violence, which can be addressed by effectively implementing UNCAT.
Replies to recommendations by non-States-parties are key markers of a States’ political will to ratify UNCAT and improve implementation. They help CTI to better understand the challenges to be addressed and the best ways to support States in their efforts to strengthen their anti-torture legal and institutional frameworks.
CTI will continue to cooperate with all States as they take action to prevent and respond to incidents of torture and ill-treatment, before and after joining UNCAT.
The official replies to recommendations to ratify UNCAT will be provided at the latest in March 2021, during the 46th session of the Human Rights Council.
*The 14 States reviewed during UPR37 were: Australia, Austria, Georgia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Oman, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and São Tomé and Príncipe.
|25 recommendations to ratify UNCAT||29 recommendations to ratify UNCAT||19 recommendations to ratify UNCAT|
CTI, launched in 2014, is an inter-governmental initiative, promoting the universal ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. The CTI is being spearheaded by the Governments of Chile, Denmark, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco, and is supported by a full-time Secretariat based in Geneva. CTI fosters constructive dialogue and international cooperation between States, and offers technical and capacity building support to governments. CTI is encouraged by a Group of Friends, which is open to all UN Member States and serves as a platform for the exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas on how to overcome obstacles to ratification and implementation of the UNCAT.
For those States interested in how CTI can support their efforts towards ratification and/or implementation of UNCAT, please contact email@example.com, or find more information on the CTI Advice Hub.