CTI Tools Support Torture Prevention and Response
Since its launch in 2014, CTI has developed a number of practical tools and publications to support States around the world in their efforts to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
These tools and guides draw on expert knowledge, share technical advice, and present multiple examples of how different States have developed their national laws, policies, procedures and practical standards and addressed challenges for an efficient and functioning system of justice, built on laws, codes of conduct, innovation, transparency and accountability.
UNCAT – The treaty
The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is the key global treaty prohibiting torture and recognising its absolute and non-derogable character.
The “UNCAT Article-by-Article” is an easy-to-read summary of the UN Convention against Torture’s obligations, drafted in bullet point-style to simplify the take-away message of each provision and making them more easily understandable.
The summary divides the provisions contained in UNCAT into its three segments:
- substantive obligations (Articles 1-16);
- provisions relating to the functions of the UN Committee against Torture (Articles 17-24); and
- provisions relating to the observance, ratification and interpretation of the Convention (Articles 25-33).
This tool is for both States parties and non-States-parties to UNCAT to support domestic efforts to prevent and respond to torture and ill-treatment. It is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.
The “UNCAT Explainer” is a guide for States as they take stock ahead of ratification/accession and devise plans for implementing the Convention. The main areas of Conventional responsibility are grouped under 8 practical areas of implementation:
• review of procedures;
• prosecution and punishment;
• cooperation on extradition;
• redress; and
The document has been used by non-States-parties in preparing Cabinet submissions or other documentation for ratification or accession to UNCAT. For States parties, it will support implementation plans, policies and strategies, by identifying the main areas where reforms or changes may be needed.
A toolkit for taking executive action on ratifying the Convention
All you need to know on the process of ratification/accession to UNCAT is made readily available in the CTI UNCAT Ratification Toolkit.
Read about how States prepare to become parties to UNCAT.
This toolkit compiles critical information on the procedures and matters to consider before and upon UNCAT ratification/accession.
It is intended for State officials to be fully aware of why, when and how to sign, ratify or accede to UNCAT, and includes several annexes offering complementary materials answering the most common questions raised by States.
The full toolkit is available here.
Some of the annexes can be accessed separately here:
- When to ratify UNCAT and OPCAT?
- Ratification, Accession, Reservations and Declarations to UNCAT
- Templates for Ratification, Accession, Reservations and Declarations to UNCAT
- Initial Reports to the Committee against Torture – General Guidelines
- Checklist – Compiled list of elements for anti-torture legislation
- Work of the Committee against Torture
- Difference between anti-torture mandate holders
CTI’s anti-torture legislation guides and other publications help States to review and strengthen their legal frameworks in support of domestic torture prevention efforts and strategies.
CTI partnered with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) to produce a Guide on anti-torture legislation, intended to assist lawmakers in drafting anti-torture legislation and in revising existing domestic laws. It is helpful also for other actors such as national human rights institutions, national preventive mechanisms, actors from civil society or international and regional organisations advocating for or supporting the adoption of an anti-torture legal framework at the national level.
The guide is structured to explain the primary (compulsory), recommended and optional elements requiring domestic legislation.
Complementing the APT-CTI Guide on anti-torture legislation, CTI developed a legal check-list to assist States in their efforts to review and amend national laws to be compliant with UNCAT, by identifying existing UNCAT-compliant provisions, as well as are areas where amendments might be needed.
The check-list is available in English here.
This publication on legislative practices and trends in respect of anti-torture legal frameworks in Latin America and the Caribbean captures the experiences of both civil and common law systems and covers 17 Latin American and 14 Caribbean countries. It provides States in the region and beyond and other relevant stakeholders with valuable examples of anti-torture legislative and institutional frameworks in Latin America and the Caribbean, and further identifies gaps where further progress could be advanced.
Practical thematic tools to implement the Convention
The “UNCAT Implementation Tools” offer support, guidance and ideas for State practitioners and policymakers as they develop or revise context-specific strategies, mechanisms and procedures for the effective implementation of UNCAT.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 1/2017: States strategies to prevent and respond to torture and ill-treatment or punishment
State strategies to prevent and respond to torture and other ill-treatment or punishment
Torture prevention strategies are aimed at effectively reducing the risk factors and eliminating the root causes allowing it to occur. This UNCAT Implementation Tool compiles 14 good practices and examples of measures States have taken to prevent and respond to torture and ill-treatment, such as national anti-torture strategies, national human rights action or development plans, and agency operational plans. It further provides guidance on elements to consider when developing torture prevention strategies.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 2/2017: Safeguards in the first hours of police detention
Recognising that there is a heightened risk of torture and ill-treatment during arrest and the first hours in police custody, this UNCAT Implementation Tool addresses legal and procedural safeguards against torture and ill-treatment. Compiling 21 examples of such safeguards, this tool will assist States to identify gaps where reforms may be needed to strengthen domestic torture prevention efforts and inspire good practices in UNCAT implementation from other States.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 3/2017: Reporting to the UN Committee against Torture
Reporting to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) is a key obligation, and positively gives the State an opportunity to engage in a constructive way on their implementation efforts and to receive advice on areas where further reforms may be recommended. This tool highlights the main steps of the reporting cycle, compiles State practices and experiences on reporting to CAT, and showcases some effective measures to streamline reporting, implementation and follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 4/2018: Non-refoulement procedures and safeguards
The principle of non-refoulement or the prohibition against expulsion, return or extradition of persons to a place where they face a real risk of torture or ill-treatment is a basic UNCAT obligation. Drawing on 33 examples of domestic legislation and procedures incorporating the principle of non-refoulement, it shows how this principle can be respected in practice.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 5/2018: Providing rehabilitation to victims of torture and other ill-treatment
Providing rehabilitation to victims of torture and ill-treatment restores physical, mental, social and vocational independence and constitutes one of the components of the right to redress. Sharing 20 State practices and examples of laws, policy guidance, action plans, types of rehabilitation services and funding models, the tool hopes intends to inspire States to learn from each other in their efforts to improve access, availability and quality of domestic rehabilitation services.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 6/2019: Cooperation on Extradition
A general principle of UNCAT is that States are required either to prosecute or extradite an alleged perpetrator of torture in their territory in order to eliminate safe havens and end impunity for serious crimes. This tool outlines the different elements of UNCAT’s extradition framework and how it fosters cooperation and mutual legal assistance between countries. 26 examples of States’ treaties, laws, policies, procedures and practices are included.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 7/2019: Procedures and mechanisms to handle complaints of and investigations into torture or other ill-treatment
Putting in place procedures enabling persons to bring complaints of torture and ill-treatment and promptly investigating allegations prevents re-occurrence, improves transparency and accountability and combats impunity. 35 State practices and examples from across the world will inspire better practices.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 8/2020: Non-admission of evidence obtained by torture and ill-treatment: Procedures and practices
The importance of the rule that evidence obtained by torture and ill-treatment shall never be admitted into court proceedings (also known as the “exclusionary rule”) is threefold: it removes incentives to coerce confessions or information from suspects and witnesses, safeguards the fairness of court proceedings, and protects individual’s rights to due process. 22 examples of legislative, policy, practical measures and procedures are contained in the tool. The tool is written for police and other investigators and interviewers, prosecutors, medical practitioners and judges on the steps they can take to ensure torture evidence is never used.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 9/2021: Positive discipline and alternatives to corporal punishment of children
Corporal and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment are forms of violence and States must take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to eliminate them. This tool offers 30 examples of State good practices in implementing positive discipline approaches through education, training and awareness-raising, adopting legislation prohibiting corporal punishment and developing comprehensive policies to prohibit such practices.
CTI UNCAT Implementation Tool 10/2021: The Initial Medical Assessment (IMA) of detainees upon admission
An Initial Medical Assessment (IMA) is an evaluation by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional of all detainees as soon as possible after their arrival in a place of detention. The IMA is an important means for the early identification of cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (ill-treatment). It helps to ensure the appropriate medical and psychological treatment of victims of torture or other ill-treatment and provides an opportunity for the referral of any such cases to the relevant authorities for investigation and prosecution. Effective IMAs may also serve as a strong deterrent for perpetrators and have a key role to play in the prevention of further acts of torture. This tool illustrates good practice examples of legislative, policy and practical measures and procedures adopted by States to ensure effective IMAs that contribute to the fulfilment of their obligations regarding the prevention, identification and documentation of cases of torture and other ill-treatment.
The tool is available in English.
Capacity-building and training materials
In cooperation with expert friends and partners, CTI develops and publishes capacity-building and training materials to assist States to educate and inform officials on good practices in implementing UNCAT.
CTI Training Tool 1/2017: Investigative Interviewing for Criminal Cases
Using non-coercive, rapport-building methods to question suspects, witnesses and victims (known as “investigative interviewing”) increases the likelihood of suspects disclosing meaningful and reliable information and improves investigations and evidence collection. This tool outlines the benefits and basic stages of the investigative interviewing method and it is available in 9 languages. Prepared for CTI by the Norwegian Center for Human Rights (NCHR) in cooperation with the Norwegian Police University College, who are leading trainers on this technique around the world, this tool is currently being used in several countries across regions to change policies, practices and trainings.
Forthcoming: Practical resource toolkit for professional, human rights-compliant policing
A joint project of CTI and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this practical toolkit will identify the main thematic elements that are essential for an independent, effective and human rights-oriented police service by gathering existing resources, standards and good State practices.
It is addressed to law enforcement officials and lawmakers, policy-makers and government officials in charge of developing and reforming national laws, policies, programmes and practices to professionalise police services and strengthen their effectiveness.
The first chapters of the resource toolkit will be released during 2021.