Monday 21 January 2008

New General Comment from Torture Committee

The Committee Against Torture recently adopted its General Comment No. 2:, General Comment 2 addresses the three paragraphs of Article 2 which the Committee regards as the 'essential principles that undergrid the Convention's absolute prohibition against torture'. It responds to State reporting to the Committee and deals principally with: State failure to make the offence of torture punishable under its criminal law; discrepancies between domestic law definitions of torture and the conventional definition of torture; state responsibility including the question of effective measures and effective control; non-discrimination; and superior orders. General Comment 2 rovides 'an authoritative opinion' on how the Committee understands the obligations of States under this article. The drafters have attempted to treat the disparities between the object and purpose of the Convention and State implementation, particularly; it would seem, in relation to counter-terrorism practices. The Committee clarifies a number of important issues - the non-derogability of Art. 2, Art. 15 and Art. 16 of the Convention; the objective determination of intent and purpose of Art. 1; and effective due process safeguards against torture. However, conversely, it manages to fudge some fundamental issues. The question of definitional distinction between torture, inhuman and degrading treatment is ambiguously treated (para. 3) and the Committee's interpretation of effective control may be considered overly ambitious and contrary to established jurisprudence ( para.16).
Thanks to Michelle Farrell for this contribution to the blog.

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