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Part II. International Human Rights System. 7/11previousTable of Contentsnext

6. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment


PART I. National Frameworks for the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities
PART II. The International Human Rights System
1. Introduction to the International Human Rights System
1.1 Exhaustion of Local Remedies
1.2 Disability Rights at the International Level
2. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
2.1 Review of provisions
2.2 Reporting Procedure Under the ICCPR
2.3 Emergency procedure Under the ICCPR
2.4 Individual Communication Procedure
3. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
3.1 Review of provisions
3.2 1503 Procedure Under the ICESCR
4. The Convention on the Rights of the Child
4.1 Review of provisions
4.2 Reporting Procedure
4.3 Thematic Consideration of Issues
4.4 Missions
5. The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
5.1 Review of Provisions
5.2 Reporting Procedure
5.3 Exceptional Reporting Procedure
5.4 Complaint Procedure
6. The Convention Against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment
6.1 Review of provisions
6.2 Reporting Procedure
6.3 Investigative procedure
6.4 Individual Complaints Procedure
7. The International Labour organization (ILO)
7.1 The Complaint Procedure
7.2 ILO Provision on the Rights of the Migrant Worker
8. Other International Norms and standards
9. Other International Mechanisms
10. Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
10.1 Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflicts
10.2 Human Rights in Times of Emergency
10.3 Civilian Persons Hors de Combat
10.4 Special Protection for the Wounded and Sick
10.5 Victims of Land Mines and Armed Conflicts
PART III. The Regional Human Rights System
PART IV. Towards a Rights Based Perspective on Disability
PART V. Rights of Special Groups with Disabilities

6.1 Review of Provisions

CAT contains universally applicable standards, which are relevant to persons with disabilities, as torture can lead to disabilities, and discrimination against persons with disabilities can lead to cruel or other similar treatment. Pursuant to article 2 (1), States Parties undertake to adopt effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. Article 2 (2) provides that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification for torture. Therefore, under no circumstances may any order from a superior officer, or circumstances in a state or threat of war, or internal political instability be a justification for torture.

Article 14 of the Convention concerns the provision of compensation for victims of torture. States Parties must ensure legal remedies to victims of torture whereby victims may obtain redress and compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. Therefore, persons disabled as a result of torture must be provided with legally enforceable rights to compensation to assist in their rehabilitation.

6.2 Reporting Procedure

Article 17 of the Convention establishes a Committee. As is required of the other treaty based Committees, the States Parties have to submit reports to the Committee. Initial reports should be submitted in two parts. The first part should do the following:

  1. Describe the general legal framework to prohibit torture and other inhuman treatment;
  2. Indicate national or international binding obligations on the State to provide greater protection than that afforded by the Convention;
  3. Indicate national redress procedures for victims of violations of the Convention and provide information on cases dealing with by those authorities.

The second part of the report should provide information on the implementation of articles 1 to 16 of the Convention, indicating the following:

  1. The legislative, judicial and administrative measures in force which give effect to the relevant provisions;
  2. Any factors and difficulties affecting the practical implementation of the provisions; and
  3. Statistical data on cases where measures giving effect to the respective provisions have been enforced, including descriptions of actual cases.

Subsequent periodic reports should provide information additional to that in initial reports on new measures taken. Before being considered by the Committee, the reports receive the attention of the member designated as Country Rapporteur, who undertakes a detailed analysis in preparation for the consideration by the Committee, and to both identify key issues and prepare questions and comments to be put to the representatives of the Government. After consideration by the Committee, it adopts its Conclusions and Recommendations, which comprises a critique of the State report, noting positive factors, but also drawing attention to subjects of concern. This is the only Committee that is expressly empowered to make comments on individual state reports (article 19), which can be included in its Annual Report to the General Assembly.

6.3 Investigative Procedure

All State Parties to the Convention are bound by the terms of article 20, unless they have, at the time of ratification or accession, declared and not subsequently withdrawn such declaration that they do not recognise the competence of the Committee under the article.

The article 20 procedure provides for the investigation of well-founded indications of the systematic practices of torture in a State Party. In order to initiate this procedure, information provided must indicate the systematic practice of torture (article 20, paragraph 1). Once the information is deemed to meet the criteria of article 20, paragraph 1, the Government concerned is invited to comment within a stated time limit. The Committee may then decide to conduct an enquiry. This would be conducted by one or more of its members, assisted by appropriate independent specialists. It may also invite the Government to afford its co-operation, including, if appropriate, the provision of facilities for the conducting of visiting missions. The enquiry may involve the conducting of sworn hearings. The Governments are requested that such proceedings are not interrupted and that those heard are not intimidated.

After examining the findings of the enquiry, the Committee sends the findings, together with its comments and recommendations, to the State Party, inviting it to indicate action, which it intends to take. Finally, the Committee may decide to publish a summary of the proceedings in its annual report.

6.4 Individual Complaints Procedure

This procedure permits individuals to complain to the Committee about a State Party in circumstances in which they are the alleged victims of violations of the Convention, and the State Party has made the necessary declaration under article 22. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Committee is not a court. Thus, the Committee only adopts views but cannot issue judgements and has no possibilities to enforce the views it adopts.

Before a case can be considered on its merits, it is necessary for it to have been found admissible. The admissibility requirements are similar to those of the individual complaints procedure before the Human Rights Committee. Once the case has been found admissible and the Committee is of the view that it has gathered sufficient information, it proceeds to a consideration of the merits and the adoption of the views. Unlike the Human Rights Committee, it can invite parties to attend an oral hearing. The UN and specialised agencies may also be requested to provide additional information. If the victim is in imminent danger, the Committee can request interim measures. The Committee communicates its views to the complainant and the State. These are then published in the Committee's Annual Report to the General Assembly. All steps of the procedure under article 22 are confidential until the point where the Committee adopts its views or otherwise concludes the case. Unlike the Human Rights Committee, it has no follow-up mechanism.

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