Torture still rife 25 years after adoption of treaty banning it, UN experts warn

10 December 2009 – Although 146 States of the 192 Member States of the United Nations ratified or acceded to the international convention outlawing torture, the practice is still rife worldwide 25 years after the treaty’s adoption, the UN Committee against Torture warned today.

Among the main obstacles, Committee Chairperson Claudio Grossman cited the refusal to adopt a clear definition of torture, to criminalize torture and establish adequate penalties, failure to investigate alleged torture, and impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture.

“We cannot say that torture has decreased… full implementation is far from being achieved,” he said on the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

He also drew attention also to the expulsion, return and extradition of persons to States where there are substantial grounds for believing that they are in danger of being tortured, and so-called ‘rendition’ of suspects to countries that continue to use torture as a means of investigation and interrogation.

“I call upon all Members States of the United Nations to ratify or accede to the Convention, and upon all States parties to the Convention to fully implement the Convention’s provisions and the Committee’s recommendations, to withdraw their reservations to the Convention, and to report to the Committee on the measures they have undertaken to prevent torture and ill-treatment,” he declared.

“Only then will we move closer to achieving the better world imagined 25 years ago,” he said, adding that the Convention’s adoption “was an important act to imagine and help shape the world in which we want to live – one which, unfortunately, still remains unrealized.”

The Committee is a body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention.


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