Date: March 8, 2010
Document id: ALRC-COS-13-13-2010
Speaker: Michael Anthony
HRC section: Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Torture
An Oral Statement to the 13th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status
ASIA: Council failing to cooperate and implement Special Rapporteur on Torture’s recommendations
video from UN webcast archive
Thank you, Mr. President,
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) welcomes the global study of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, which notes that despite the grave nature and absolute prohibition of torture, it remains widespread in the majority of countries. The ALRC has documented hundreds of cases of torture in Asia that support your findings, including that torture is routine rather than exceptional, that it disproportionately targets the vulnerable and poor, that it is used to investigate even ordinary crimes, to extract confessions or money, or as a means to instil fear and exert control over populations.
Importantly, you have noted that some governments have completely failed to respond to your communications, and that even when others do, serious investigations into allegations of torture that actually led to sanctions against the officials responsible were only conducted in exceptional cases.
Of particular concern is your finding that country-specific conclusions and recommendations made by your mandate have never led to any specific resolutions or recommendations by the Human Rights Council. We find this to be deeply disturbing. The Council is mandated to ensure the protection of human rights, yet it is ignoring its experts� recommendations. The actual protection of rights cannot happen in the abstract or outer space deep space, it must happen at the country level. In light of this, what new approaches or mechanisms are required, in your view, for the Council to effectively engage with your mandate to combat torture at the country level? The UPR is clearly not a sufficient mechanism alone to deal with issues that are this sensitive and in need of urgent action.
We support the call for a code of conduct for States to ensure their cooperation.
We would also like to know if you are having fruitful exchanges with the following governments: India, concerning a request for a visit that has been pending since 1993. Pakistan, where the ALRC has identified at least 52 secret torture camps being operated by the military. Bangladesh, which has a Bill criminalizing torture pending before parliament, but which is also arbitrarily blocking NGO Odikhar�s torture project. Thailand, which is running for membership in this Council even though torture and impunity are widespread there. And Sri Lanka, where torture remains rampant, and despite a law criminalizing torture, impunity is iron-clad.