United Nations

A/53/253


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

17 August 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                        A/53/253
       
                                                        Original: English
       
       
General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Item 113 (a) of the provisional agenda*
Human rights questions: implementation of 
  human rights instruments

     * A/53/150.


    Status of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
                   Degrading Treatment or Punishment


                    Report of the Secretary-General


1.   The General Assembly, by its resolution 39/46 of 10
December 1984, adopted and opened for signature,
ratification and accession the Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment contained in the annex to that resolution, and
called upon all Governments to consider signing and
ratifying the Convention as a matter or priority.

2.   The Convention was opened for signature in New
York on 4 February 1985. In accordance with article 27
thereof, the Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987,
on the thirtieth day after the date of the deposit with the
Secretary-General of the twentieth instrument of ratification
or accession.

3.   In its resolution 51/86 of 12 December 1996, the
General Assembly welcomed the report of the Committee
against Torture; 1/ urged all States that had not yet done so
to become parties to the Convention as a matter of priority;
invited all States ratifying or acceding to the Convention
and those States that were parties to the Convention and that
had not yet done so to consider joining the States parties
that had already made the declarations provided for in
articles 21 and 22 of the Convention and to consider the
possibility of withdrawing their reservations to articles 20;
urged States parties to comply strictly with their obligations
under the Convention, including their obligation to submit
reports in accordance with article 19 of the Convention, in
view of the high number of reports not submitted; stressed
the need for regular exchanges of views between the
Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on
Torture and other relevant United Nations mechanisms and
bodies, with a view to enhancing further their effectiveness
and cooperation on issues relating to torture, inter alia, by
improving their coordination; commended the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights/Centre for Human Rights of the Secretariat for the
support given to States in the preparation of national reports
to the Committee; urged States parties to take fully into
account the conclusions and recommendations made by the
Committee after its consideration of their reports; urged all
States parties to the Convention to notify the Secretary-General 
of their acceptance of the amendments to articles
17 and 18 of the Convention as soon as possible; 2/ and
requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General
Assembly at its fifty-third session a report on the status of
the Convention.

4.   The Commission on Human Rights, at its fifty-fourth
session, on 17 April 1998 adopted resolution 1998/38, in
which it called upon all Governments to implement fully the
prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment; urged all Governments to promote
the speedy and full implementation of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action (A/CONF.157/23)
and, in particular, of Part II, section B.5, relating to freedom
from torture, in which it is stated that States should abrogate
legislation leading to impunity for those responsible for
grave violations of human rights such as torture and
prosecute such violations, thereby providing a firm basis for
the rule of law; reminded Governments that corporal
punishment could amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading
punishment or even to torture; stressed in particular that all
allegations of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment should be promptly and impartially
examined by the competent national authority, that those
who encouraged, ordered, tolerated or perpetrated such acts
must be held responsible and severely punished, including
the officials in charge of the place of detention where the
prohibited act was found to have taken place, and that
national legal systems should ensure that the victims of such
acts obtained redress and were awarded fair and adequate
compensation and received appropriate socio-medical
rehabilitation. The Commission also reminded all States that
prolonged incommunicado detention might facilitate the
perpetration of torture and could in itself constitute a form
of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; stressed that
under article 4 of the Convention against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment acts
of torture must be made an offence under domestic criminal
law and that acts of torture during armed conflict were
considered a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions of
1949, with the perpetrators liable to prosecution and
punishment; emphasized the obligation of States parties
under article 10 of the Convention to ensure education and
training for personnel who might be involved in the custody,
interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any
form of arrest, detention or imprisonment, and called upon
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
in conformity with her mandate established in General
Assembly resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993, to
provide, at the request of Governments, advisory services
in that regard, as well as technical assistance in the
development, production and distribution of appropriate
teaching material for the purpose. The Commission stressed
in that context that States mush not punish such personnel
for not obeying orders to commit acts amounting to torture
or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment.

5.   As at 15 July 1998, the Convention had been ratified
or acceded to by 105 States. In addition, 13 States had
signed the Convention. The list of States that have signed,
ratified or acceded to the Convention, as well as the dates
of their signature, ratification or accession, is contained in
the annex to the present report.

6.   As at the same date, 39 of the States parties to the
Convention, namely Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria,
Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco,
the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal,
the Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay,
Venezuela and Yugoslavia, had made the declarations
provided for in articles 21 and 22 of the Convention. In
addition, two States parties, namely, the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States
of America, had made the declaration provided for in article
21 only, thus bringing the total number of declarations
under that article to 41. Under article 21, a State party to the
Convention may declare at any time that it recognizes the
competence of the Committee against Torture to receive and
consider communications to the effect that a State party
claims that another State party is not fulfilling its
obligations under the Convention. Under article 22, a State
party to the Convention may declare at any time that it
recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and
consider communications from or on behalf of individuals
subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a
violation by a State party of the provisions of the
Convention.

7.   The provisions of articles 21 and 22 entered into force
on 26 June 1987 in accordance with paragraph 2 of article
21 and paragraph 8 of article 22.

8.   The sixth meeting of the States parties to the
Convention was convened by the Secretary-General at the
United Nations Office at Geneva on 26 November 1997 to
elect five members of the Committee against Torture to
replace those whose terms of office were due to expire on
31 December 1997. As a result of the election, the
membership of the Committee for 1998 is as follows:

          Mr. Peter Thomas Burns (Canada)
          Mr. Guibril Camara (Senegal)
          Mr. Sayed Kassem El Masry (Egypt)
          Mr. Alejandro Gonza'lez Poblete (Chile)
          Mr. Andreas Mavromatis (Cyprus)
          Mr. Anto'nio Silva Henriques Gaspar (Portugal)
          Mr. Bent Sorensen (Denmark)
          Mr. Alexander M. Yakovlev (Russian Federation)
          Mr. Yu Mengjia (China)
          Mr. Bostjan M. Zupancic (Slovenia)

9.   The Committee against Torture held its seventeenth,
eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth sessions at the United
Nations Office at Geneva from 11 to 22 November 1996,
from 29 April to 9 May 1997, from 10 to 21 November 1997
and from 4 to 22 May 1998, respectively. In accordance
with article 24 of the Convention, the Committee submitted
its annual reports, 3/ covering its activities at the sessions
referred to above, to the States parties and to the General
Assembly at its fifty-second and fifty-third sessions.


                              Notes


          1/   Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session,
               Supplement No. 44 (A/51/44).

          2/   Adopted by the Conference of States Parties to the Convention
               on 9 September 1992 in accordance with article 29, paragraph
               1, of the Convention (CAT/SP/SR.4) and endorsed by the
               General Assembly in its resolution 47/111 of 16 December
               1992.

          3/   Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-second
               Session, Supplement No. 44 (A/52/44); ibid., Fifty-third
               Session, Supplement No. 44 (A/53/44).

 
                              Annex

      List of States that have signed, ratified or acceded to the
         Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
          Degrading Treatment or Punishment as at 15 July 1998

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Date of receipt of the 
                                              instrument of ratification,
State                   Date of signature     accession or succession
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Afghanistan             4 February 1985        1 April 1987
Albania                                       11 May 1994 b/
Algeria a/              26 November 1985      12 September 1989
Antigua and Barbuda                           19 July 1993 b/
Argentina a/            4 February 1985       24 September 1986
Armenia                                       13 September 1993 b/
Australia a/            10 December 1985       8 August 1989
Austria a/              14 March 1985         29 July 1987
Azerbaijan                                    16 August 1996 b/
Bahrain                                        6 March 1998 b/
Belarus                 19 December 1985      13 March 1987
Belgium                 4 February 1985              
Belize                                        17 March 1986 b/
Benin                                         12 March 1992 b/
Bolivia                 4 February 1985       
Bosnia and Herzegovina                         6 March 1992 c/
Brazil                  23 September 1985     28 September 1989
Bulgaria a/             10 June 1986          16 December 1986
Burundi                                       18 February 1993 b/
Cambodia                                      15 October 1992 b/
Cameroon                                      19 December 1986 b/
Canada a/               23 August 1985        24 June 1987
Cape Verde                                     4 June 1992 b/
Chad                                           9 June 1995 b/
Chile                   23 September 1987     30 September 1988
China                   12 December 1986       4 October 1988
Colombia                10 April 1985          8 December 1987
Costa Rica              4 February 1985       11 November 1993
Co^te d'Ivoire                                18 December 1995 b/
Croatia a/                                     8 October 1991 c/
Cuba                    27 January 1986       17 May 1995
Cyprus a/               9 October 1985        18 July 1991
Czech Republic                                 1 January 1993 c/
Democratic Republic 
  of the Congo                                18 March 1996 b/
Denmark a/              4 February 1985       27 May 1987
Dominican Republic      4 February 1985
Ecuador a/              4 February 1985       30 March 1988
Egypt                                         25 June 1986 b/
El Salvador                                   17 June 1996 b/
Estonia                                       21 October 1991 b/
Ethiopia                                      14 March 1994 b/
Finland a/              4 February 1985       30 August 1989
France a/               4 February 1985       18 February 1986
Gabon                   21 January 1986
Gambia                  23 October 1985
Georgia                                       26 October 1994 b/
Germany                 13 October 1986        1 October 1990
Greece a/               4 February 1985        6 October 1988
Guatemala                                      5 January 1990 b/
Guinea                  30 May 1986           10 October 1989
Guyana                  25 January 1988       19 May 1988
Honduras                                       5 December 1996 b/
Hungary a/              28 November 1986      15 April 1987
Iceland a/              4 February 1985       23 October 1996
India                   14 October 1997
Indonesia               23 October 1985
Ireland                 28 September 1992
Israel                  22 October 1986        3 October 1991
Italy a/                4 February 1985       12 January 1989
Jordan                                        13 November 1991 b/
Kenya                                         21 February 1997 b/
Kuwait                                         8 March 1996 b/
Kyrgyzstan                                     5 September 1997 b/
Latvia                                        14 April 1992 b/
Libyan Arab 
  Jamahiriya                                  16 May 1989 b/
Liechtenstein a/        27 June 1985           2 November 1990
Lithuania                                      1 February 1996 b/
Luxembourg a/           22 February 1985      29 September 1987
Malawi                                        11 June 1996 b/
Malta a/                                      13 September 1990 b/
Mauritius                                      9 December 1992 b/
Mexico                  18 March 1985         23 January 1986
Monaco a/                                      6 December 1991 b/ 
Morocco                 8 January 1986        21 June 1993
Namibia                                       28 November 1994 b/
Nepal                                         14 May 1991 b/
Netherlands a/          4 February 1985       21 December 1988
New Zealand a/          14 January 1986       10 December 1989
Nicaragua               15 April 1985       
Nigeria                 28 July 1988
Norway a/               4 February 1985        9 July 1986
Panama                  22 February 1985      24 August 1987
Paraguay                23 October 1989       12 March 1990
Peru                    29 May 1985            7 July 1988
Philippines                                   18 June 1986 b/
Poland a/               13 January 1986       26 July 1989
Portugal a/             4 February 1985        9 February 1989
Republic of Korea                              9 January 1995 b/
Republic of Moldova                           28 November 1995 b/
Romania                                       18 December 1990 b/
Russian Federation a/   10 December 1985       3 March 1987
Saudi Arabia                                  22 September 1997 b/
Senegal a/              4 February 1985       21 August 1986
Seychelles                                     5 May 1992 b/
Sierra Leone            18 March 1985       
Slovakia a/                                   29 May 1993 c/
Slovenia a/                                   16 July 1993 b/
Somalia                                       24 January 1990 b/
South Africa            29 January 1993
Spain a/                4 February 1985       21 October 1987
Sri Lanka                                      3 January 1994 b/
Sudan                   4 June 1986
Sweden a/               4 February 1985        8 January 1986
Switzerland a/          4 February 1985        2 December 1986
Tajikistan                                    11 January 1995 b/
The former Yugoslav 
  Republic of
  Macedonia                                   12 December 1994 c/
Togo a/                 25 March 1987         18 November 1987
Tunisia a/              26 August 1987        23 September 1988
Turkey a/               25 January 1988        2 August 1988
Uganda                                         3 November 1986 b/
Ukraine                 27 February 1986      24 February 1987
United Kingdom of 
  Great Britain
  and Northern 
  Ireland d/            15 March 1985          8 December 1988
United States of 
  America d/            18 April 1988         21 October 1994
Uruguay a/              4 February 1985       24 October 1986
Uzbekistan                                    28 September 1995 b/
Venezuela a/            15 February 1985      29 July 1991
Yemen                                          5 November 1991 b/
Yugoslavia a/           18 April 1989         10 September 1991
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
       
       
                                  Notes


               a/  Made the declaration under articles 21 and 22 of the
                   Convention.

               b/  Accession.

               c/  Succession.

               d/   Made the declaration under article 21 of the Convention.

                                 -----

 

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