Introduction to the Convention

Report
International Workshop on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and its Optional
Protocol (OPCAT)
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 6 June 2014
Introduction to CAT and OPCAT
Manfred Nowak
Professor of International Law and Human Rights, University of Vienna, Austria
Austrian Chair Visiting Professor at Stanford University, California
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UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010)
Manfred Nowak - CAT
Table of Contents
1. Development of International Legal Instruments against Torture
2. Definition of Torture
3. Definition of Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CIDT)
4. Inhuman conditions of detention
5. Prohibition of Torture as an absolute and non-derogable right in
International Law
6. Main obligations under CAT and OPCAT
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Manfred Nowak - CAT
1. Development of International Legal Instruments against
Torture
After World War II
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Article 5 UDHR 1948
Article 3 ECHR 1950
Article 7 CCPR 1966
Article 5 ACHR 1969
1970s
Eleanor Roosevelt holding
Systematic practice of torture in many
the UDHR, 1948
parts of the world, in particular during
the military dictatorships in Latin America.
Campaign against Torture by Amnesty International and other NGOs
1980s
UN Convention against Torture 1984/87
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Manfred Nowak - CAT
2. Definition of Torture
• Causing of severe physical and/or mental pain or suffering
• State responsibility
• Intention; applied to achieve a certain purpose (confession, information,
intimidation, discrimination…)
• Powerlessness, defenselessness of the victim, which is completely in the
torturer’s power (especially during detention)
→ direct attack on the victim’s dignity
and personal integrity
→ specific form of violence
Examples:
„Palestinian Hanging”
Abu-Ghraib (prisoner at dog leash)
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Manfred Nowak - CAT
3. Definition of Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (CIDT)
• Cruel or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment: Infliction of severe pain or suffering not
amounting to torture (lacking any of the additional criteria for torture, such as intention,
purpose or powerlessness of the victim)
• Examples: Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials outside detention in the
course of effecting an arrest, quelling a riot or insurrection, dispersing a public gathering,
defending a person against violence, self-defence etc.; inhuman conditions of detention;
negligent infliction of severe pain or suffering (e.g. forgetting a prisoner in solitary
confinement); corporal punishment; inhuman methods of execution.
• Degrading treatment or punishment: Infliction of pain or suffering in a particularly
humiliating way
• Examples: Degrading conditions of detention; light forms of corporal punishment;
humiliating behavior of law enforcement personnel.
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Manfred Nowak - CAT
4. Inhuman conditions of detention
Sri Lanka
Nigeria
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Manfred Nowak - CAT
5. Prohibition of Torture as an absolute and non-derogable
right in International Law
• Only very few absolute rights: most notably prohibition of torture and slavery
• Most human rights are relative (may be restricted for legitimate State reasons):
freedom of expression, religion, assembly and association, personal liberty, freedom
of movement, even the right to life
• Most rights can be derogated in times of public emergency (war, natural disasters,
terrorism): e.g. freedom of expression and assembly, personal liberty, freedom of
movement
• Non-derogable rights (Article 4(2) CCPR): right to life, prohibition of torture, slavery
and servitude, non-retroactivity of criminal laws, right to recognition as a person before
the law, internal freedom of thought
• Article 2(2) CAT: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or
a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be7
invoked as a justification of torture.”
Manfred Nowak - CAT
6. Main obligations under CAT and OPCAT
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CAT
Prevention of torture and CIDT
Investigations of allegations and suspicions of torture
Fighting impunity by criminalizing torture and bringing perpetrators to
justice
Providing victims of torture with the right to effective remedy and
adequate reparation
OPCAT
• Permitting preventive visits to places of detention by the UNSubcommittee on Prevention of Torture
• Establishing an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in
accordance with the “Paris Principles” and authorizing it to carry out
regular and ad-hoc preventive visits to all places of detention
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