A Joint Oral Statement to the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and Franciscans International on Torture in Asia
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and the Franciscans International appreciates the efforts made by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, to combat torture in Asia.
The ALRC and Franciscans International applaud the strong gender perspective in the Rapporteur’s report. However, other than this component, which is unique and highly appreciated by the civil society in Asia, the recommendations are fundamentally no different from past ones.
It is time for the global human rights community to progress beyond merely urging member states to follow global human rights norms. Torture is not only a result of direct state policy, but also of the prevailing environment where officers are supposed to undertake investigation without resources or access to modern investigation technologies. Failure to address this further erodes trust in the UN.
In Asia, with the exception of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan, modern investigation facilities are inaccessible to the average police officer investigating civilian crimes. Therefore, such investigations begin and end with a forced confession statement. This is one reason torture remains endemic.
Facilities like DNA profiling, and other forensic procedures are available in Asia, but they are inadequate or made inaccessible. Asian states investing heavily on building military apparatuses have spent the least on modernizing the criminal justice process. Asian politicians and its powerful benefit from an inefficient and primitive criminal justice framework; so, it remains un-modernised.
Merely training judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and officers on human rights, and expecting them to work differently, without helping them change their environment and infrastructure must give way to engaging with states on their willingness to truly re-engineer their criminal justice process.
Has the Rapporteur’s Office engaged actively on the subject of justice institution reforms, in Asia and globally? Without such engagement, ending torture with impunity will remain a pipedream.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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