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UN to consider efforts by eight countries to prevent and punish torture

UN to consider efforts by eight countries to prevent and punish torture

A lead United Nations human rights body has convened in Geneva to review measures adopted by eight UN Member States to prevent and punish acts of torture.

During its session, which started today, the UN Committee against Torture will be briefed by representatives of Georgia, Greece, Bolivia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Costa Rica on implementation of the rights set out in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In his opening statement to the three-week session, Betrand Ramcharan, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an overview of international efforts to combat torture and called on the more than 60 States which had not yet done so to ratify the Convention. He also called for the establishment of inter-governmental mechanisms to urgently investigate reports of torture and take effective action against the practise.

In other business during the session, the Committee will meet privately to study information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised in a State party to the Convention. The experts will also examine communications from individuals claiming to be victims of a treaty violation by a State party and the question of torture in the context of the occupied Palestinian territory.

There are 123 States party to the Convention, which requires signatories to outlaw torture and explicitly prohibits the use of "higher orders" or "exceptional circumstances" as excuses for acts of torture. The Committee was established in 1987 to monitor compliance with the Convention and to assist adherents in implementing its provisions.