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Convention against Torture Initiative CTI

CTI - a Core Group comprising of Denmark, Ghna, Chile, Maroc and Indonesia met today with the UN Committee (SPT) which deals with the Optional Protocol to the Torture Convention (OPCAT) which forms the basis for the establishment of National Preventive Mechanism for the prevention of torture in the Member States. Ambassador Staur accounted for the developments up until now.

CTI briefing of the SPT
15 February 2016
Remarks by Ambassador Carsten Staur on behalf of the core group

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Sub-Committee, I am delighted to be here today to brief you on the work of the CTI and our plans for the future.
I am sure that members of the Sub-Committee know about the Initiative already but let me set out a brief background of the CTI nevertheless. I’ll also say a few words about how I believe we could collaborate further with the SPT and your work.

What is the CTI?

The CTI was launched almost two years ago – in the beginning of March 2014 – by the Governments of Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco.
The CTI aims to achieve universal ratification as well as better implementation of the Convention against Torture, by 2024. 158 States have signed up to the Convention which means the CTI will be working over the coming 8 years to convince the remaining 37 to ratify. We are extremely pleased that four States have ratified the Convention since the start of the CTI.

CTI’s goals will be achieved by facilitating support to States through for example the identification of challenges and barriers to ratification and implementation, by facilitating dialogue among States in similar situations or with similar challenges, by sharing knowledge and good practices between governments, and building a global platform of States, the UN, national and international NGOs and experts to jointly achieve these shared aims.

Internal administration of the CTI

We have also made great strides in terms of strengthening CTI’s internal administration over the past year.

A small CTI Secretariat was established in April 2015. Dr. Alice Edwards, who joins me today, took up the post as Head of the CTI Secretariat in January and she is working closely with counterparts in the SPT Secretariat as well as with other officials across OHCHR.

As part of the CTI communication strategy, we have established a significant online presence through social media and our own bespoke website – cti2024.org – to keep States, partners and followers up to speed. The website allows States and non-States parties to the Convention to access easily CTI tools and guides, information on past and forthcoming events, and on how the CTI can support them.

How can the CTI support States?

There are a number of ways in which the CTI can assist States that are considering ratification as well as those that have already ratified but seek help to implement the Convention more effectively.

For example, the CTI has arranged study visits which entail State delegations coming to Geneva to hear from anti-torture experts and likeminded States about the Convention and its importance. Last year we received a delegation from Myanmar who were keen to learn more about the Convention, the ratification process and what it means to be a State party. This year – in April – we will receive a delegation from Malaysia to introduce them to similar issues. All visits are tailor made to needs and interests – and are used as entry points for the CTI to continue a dialogue on how we can assist in the ratification process.

We can also arrange in-country visits by experts to provide assistance on a range of issues such as ratification, training police or government officials, CAT reporting, public awareness initiatives - and many other issues on request.

We have arranged and continue to hold regional meetings on thematic issues relevant to the specific region. In 2015, we held 4 major meetings in Indonesia, Poland, Costa Rica and Morocco on various themes - from ratification through to rehabilitation and on prevention of torture in police custody. These events shared good State practices, and saw the participation of more than 40 countries.

This year, we are planning other major regional events, in particular an upcoming event in Accra, Ghana, for the sub-Saharan region on the issue of criminalization of torture in national legislation. We are also looking to organize an event on ratification and reporting for small Island States in the Pacific, and to carry out in-country visits to selected non-States parties in the Caribbean.

The CTI also arranges regular high level events within the margins of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UNGA in New York. These meetings allow for States to reaffirm their opposition to torture and also to celebrate progress on ratifying and implementing the Convention. In a few weeks’ time we will have a high level side event during the first week of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council where we will be discussing strategies to prevent torture in police custody.

Finally, we work with expert partners to prepare tools and guides to help State officials understand and implement the Convention more effectively, and to support CTI’s goal of becoming a hub for sharing knowledge and good practices.

For example, you might have already seen the CTI Ratification Tool – which you can find on CTI’s website: www.cti2024.org. The tool was prepared by the APT for the CTI and will help officials understand the ratification process with a view to briefing ministers effectively on what steps need to be taken to ratify the Convention. We hope to revise the instruments of ratification, accession and succession in 2016 that are annexed to the CTI Ratification Tool, to be tailored to the provisions of the UNCAT, and will also consider similar adjustments for the instruments of ratification and accession to the OPCAT.

Another tool being prepared by the APT for the CTI is an anti-torture law guide which will be a valuable resource to State officials and legal advisers on the legislative amendments that may be required to meet the Convention obligations. This tool will be launched at the Accra event in April.

CTI Group of Friends

I also wanted to mention the core principle of the CTI is achieving progress through cooperation and sharing experiences among States parties and non-States parties to the Convention.

This is why the CTI Group of Friends concept is important to the overall success of the Initiative. The CTI continues to invite States, torture prevention experts, international, regional and non-governmental organizations sharing the vision and objectives of the CTI to join the Group of Friends. We would invite you as expert members to join in your personal capacities.

Membership of the Group of Friends does not come with specific obligations or commitments. Friends are at any time free to determine how and to what extent they wish to engage in and support the CTI. However, we do hope that friends can offer assistance where possible for example through invitations to CTI events, in providing expertise on particular themes, or in encouraging States towards ratification and better implementation of the Convention.

We currently have 32 Government members of the Group of Friends alongside a wide range of NGO’s and leading anti-torture experts.

Looking ahead

Soon, we hope to be able to share publically the CTI ratification and implementation strategy for 2016-17, and we look forward to discussing further with the SPT in your expert capacities on various aspects.

The CTI and the SPT

Let me say a few words about collaboration between the CTI and the SPT. We are extremely pleased that there is growing interest in States signing onto the OPCAT. I note that eight States have become States parties to the OPCAT since 2014, which is significant progress.  Although the primary focus of the CTI is on universal ratification of the Convention against Torture, the CTI also promotes and encourages ratification of the OPCAT, a crucial element in the fight against torture and ill-treatment in places of detention. For example, we include reference to and information about the OPCAT in our events and activities. Denmark as a CTI core group member consistently makes UPR recommendations concerning ratification of the OPCAT and we refer to the OPCAT in our annual statement to the Human Rights Council.

The CTI further recognizes the important role the SPT and national preventive mechanisms play in supporting States’ implementation of Article 2 of the UNCAT on legal, administrative and other measures that States need to put in place, as well as Article 11 relating to the review of detention procedures and safeguards in relation to arrest and detention, areas of work that the CTI is pursuing. The advisory function of the SPT to States through your visits and confidential reports suggest areas for greater collaboration between the SPT and the CTI on implementation of international torture prevention standards. Malcolm Evans, your chair, has helpfully participated in a number of our events and his contributions are always astute and well received.

Concluding remarks

In these preliminary remarks, I hope I have managed to introduce you to the CTI and what the CTI hopes to achieve over the coming years.
We believe the momentum is with us, and that there are good opportunities to collaborate. We certainly value highly the SPT and the national prevention mechanisms as an integral part of the fight against torture and have integrated as far as possible OPCAT standards and values within the CTI draft strategy I already mentioned.
I look forward to answer any questions you may have and hear your thoughts and ideas on how we might be able to collaborate on achieving these shared goals. My other core group colleagues may also wish to respond.

Thank you.