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)

Ministers' Deputies

Notes on the Agenda

15 January 1999

Restricted

No. 99/3 Addendum

ml

Reference documents

- GR-H(98)24 revised

 

656/4.2

(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 Human Rights

(GR-H)

 

Action

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.

 

DRAFT DECISIONS

4.2

STRENGTHENING THE MACHINERY OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION

FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT

PARLIAMENTARY RECOMMENDATION 1323 (1997)

(GR-H(98)24 revised)

 

Decisions

The Deputies

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 Assembly.

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 attachment.

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."

 

APPENDIX

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 (CPT);

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.



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