NZ to sign UN protocol against torture
New Zealand will be among the first countries to sign a United Nations optional protocol against torture, Foreign
Minister Phil Goff said today.
“New Zealand has actively supported the development of this protocol, which reflects our abhorrence of torture and our
commitment to human rights," Mr Goff said.
"The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture is aimed at preventing torture, rather than bringing torturers
to justice after the event.
"It will establish an international expert inspection team that will visit places of detention in countries which have
ratified the protocol. These visits have a deterrent effect but equally offer a chance to offer advice to local
authorities, as ill treatment often stems from poor monitoring regimes.
"The protocol also obliges countries that ratify it to establish a national body to undertake regular inspections.
"The Convention actually covers all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of people who are deprived of
their liberty in a place under state jurisdiction or control.
"That means that In New Zealand the protocol will apply to the treatment of people in such places as prisons, police
cells, residential facilities for children and young people, psychiatric and other medical institutions, some aged
residential care facilities (eg, for people with dementia), asylum seeker detention centres, and Defence Force detention
"Torture, in all its forms, is one of the most profound abuses of human rights. Millions of people around the world have
suffered from physical and psychological trauma from such treatment," Mr Goff said.
“Torture continues to be used in some countries despite being prohibited under international law. By signing and then
ratifying the protocol, New Zealand has joined over 100 other countries in adding to the international pressure being
exerted against nations that still regard torture as acceptable."
The government's next step is to consider whether ratifying the protocol requires amendments to existing relevant
legislation or just a single amendment to the Crimes of Torture Act 1989.
Mr Goff hopes to sign the optional protocol next month when he is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.