ICJ welcomes UN-ECOSOC adoption of treaty to prevent torture

The ICJ applauded the decision yesterday by the United Nations Economic and Social Council to adopt a treaty aimed at preventing torture. Its adoption has been a strong priority for the ICJ.

The Optional Protocol to the existing Convention against Torture establishes a system of international visits to prisons and other places of detention and requires states set up their own national visiting systems.

The treaty was adopted by a vote of 35-8 (10 abstentions)*, after a United States proposed amendment to reopen the text for negotiations was defeated. If successful, the US proposal would have likely killed the treaty for the foreseeable future.

In spite of optional nature of the instrument, the United States, along with such states as Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt and Libya, has fought strenuously against its adoption. Most European, Latin American and African states have supported the treaty.

Despite its prohibition by virtually all states and under international law, torture remains globally widespread”, said Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal Adviser. “The adoption of this mechanism constitutes an indispensable measure towards stemming this odious practice.”

The new treaty must still be approved in the autumn by the United Nations General Assembly, where further contention may be expected. Upon adoption, it would come into force when ratified by 20 states.

*Voting in favour: Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom. Voting against: Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Japan, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan. Abstaining: Bhutan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, United States, Zimbabwe. Absent: Iran.

NewsWeb stories