Notes 99/3 addendum... (656/4.1).... Strengthening the machinery of the European
Convention for the Prevention of Torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(CPT) - Parliamentary Recommendation 1323 (1997)
Notes on the Agenda
15 January 1999
No. 99/3 Addendum
- GR-H(98)24 revised
(B level, 19 January 1998)
STRENGTHENING THE MACHINERY OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION FOR THE
PREVENTION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT PARLIAMENTARY
RECOMMENDATION 1323 (1997)
Item prepared by the Rapporteur Group on
The Deputies are invited to consider, with a view to their adoption,
the appended draft reply and other draft decisions.
At its meeting on 11 January 1999, the GR-H continued its consideration
of the draft reply to the above-mentioned Assembly Recommendation. The passages reproduced
in bold have been modified by the Secretariat in conformity with proposals
presented by Delegations at that meeting.
STRENGTHENING THE MACHINERY OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION
FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR
PARLIAMENTARY RECOMMENDATION 1323 (1997)
1. adopted the following reply to Parliamentary Recommendation 1323
(1997) on strengthening the machinery of the European Convention for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:
"The Committee of Ministers welcomes and fully agrees with the
importance attached by the Assembly to the European Convention for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In this context, the Committee
of Ministers recalls the determination expressed by the Heads of State and Governments of
the Member States of the Council of Europe at their Second Summit to reinforce the means
to prevent and combat torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
With regard to the specific recommendations formulated by the Assembly
in paragraph 10 of the text, the Committee of Ministers gives the following replies:
Sub-paragraph i: The Committee of Ministers notes with satisfaction
that all member States have now ratified the Convention.
Sub-paragraph ii and iii: The Committee of Ministers unreservedly
joins with the Assembly in its call to member States, which have not yet done so, to
ratify the Protocols to the Convention as soon as possible.
Sub-paragraph iv: The Committee of Ministers refers to and endorses
the opinion of the Steering Committee on Human Rights (CDDH), adopted at its 42nd
meeting (June 1997), of which the text is reproduced in the Appendix to this reply.
Sub-paragraph v: The Committee of Ministers fully accepts the
importance of the criteria set out in this sub-paragraph, as regards both the
characteristics of the candidates for election to the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and the need
to ensure a balance between the sexes and a mix of competencies and qualifications which
best enables the Committee to carry out its work. With this in mind, the Committee of
Ministers carefully analyses the curricula vitae of candidates before proceeding to
elections, taking into account any recommendations communicated to it by the Bureau of the
Sub-paragraph vi: With regard to the compatibility of any
particular office with membership of the CPT, the Committee of Ministers considers that it
would not be appropriate to seek to resolve such questions in advance. Given the wide
variety of offices which could be concerned, it takes the view that such matters are best
resolved if and when they arise in practice, on the basis of the principles of
independence and impartiality of members of the CPT laid down in Article 4, para. 4 of the
Convention, principles to which the Committee of Ministers reaffirms its strong
The Committee of Ministers notes, however, that by Order No 530 (1997),
paragraph 2(iii), the Parliamentary Assembly invited its Bureau, when drawing
up lists of candidates for the CPT, to ask any candidate who is a member of the
Parliamentary Assembly to undertake formally, should they be elected as member of the CPT,
to resign as member of the Assembly.
Sub-paragraph vii: In the Committee of Ministers view, the
CPT being an independent body set up by virtue of a treaty, it lies within its own
competence to decide upon such matters.
Sub-paragraph viii: The Committee of Ministers agrees with the
Assembly concerning the desirability of reinforcing the human and budgetary resources of
the CPT and informs the Assembly that, in the context of the implementation of the Action
Plan adopted by the Strasbourg Summit, it has allocated additional resources to the fight
against torture and inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.
Sub-paragraph ix: In this context, the Committee of Ministers
entirely agrees with the opinion expressed by the Assembly. As long ago as June 1991, the
Committee of Ministers expressly invited Parties to the Convention to inform by
appropriate means, the relevant national authorities of the existence, powers and role of
the CPT; it is quite prepared to reiterate that invitation in the terms recommended by the
Assembly. The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the practice which has been developed
by the CPT itself of organising information seminars on its activities in States which
have recently become Parties to the Convention."
Opinion of the CDDH
on paragraph 10 (iv) of Parliamentary Assembly
Recommendation 1323 (1997) on strengthening the machinery
of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The CDDH has taken note with interest of the Parliamentary Assembly's
proposal that consideration be given to the possibility of assigning to the CPT the
responsibility for missing persons.
The CDDH considers that the problem of missing persons may raise
serious human rights issues. It is not excluded that the CPT might be confronted with this
question in cases of disappearances of persons who were previously detained.
However, the CDDH has serious doubts whether it is advisable to give
general competence to the CPT to deal with this question. The CDDH notes that, apart from
the fact that this would involve amending the Convention, the tracing of missing persons
is quite a different activity from the work currently carried out by the CPT and requires
very different working methods and expertise. In addition, the volume of work of the CPT
under its existing mandate will increase considerably in the near future, with the growing
number of ratifications of the Convention.
For these reasons, the CDDH considers that it would not be advisable to
entrust the CPT with the proposed additional responsibilities for missing persons.
Finally, the CDDH draws attention to the work carried out by other
international bodies in this area, notably in the framework of the United Nations and that
of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
2. agreed to bring this reply to the attention of the European
Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
3. urged Member States which have not yet done so to ratify the
Protocols to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, or to sign them without reservation as to ratification,
as soon as possible;
4. invited Member States to promote awareness, at national and local
level, of the CPT's activities, tasks and powers.