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UN Committee Against Torture Assesses NZ This Week

Published: Mon 17 Jul 2023 01:33 PM
The UN Committee Against Torture (the Committee) will assess the government’s performance in relation to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention) this week, during its 77th session which began in Geneva on 10 July.
The Committee's assessment will take into account information provided in civil society reports, which raised concerns around the criminal justice system, conditions in places of detention, abuse of children in state care, coercive and compulsory practices in psychiatric hospitals, the treatment of asylum seekers, extradition to states that have the death penalty, the operation of the National Preventive Mechanisms, constitutional and legal protection for Convention rights, and the conduct of New Zealand armed forces on overseas combat deployments.
This update has information about the Convention, the Committee, New Zealand and the Convention, civil society reports to the Committee, details of how you can watch the Committee’s interactive dialogue with government representatives live (starting tomorrow), and links to further information.The Convention Against Torture
The Convention was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in 1984, and entered into force on 26 June 1987. State parties to the Convention are required to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory” in accordance with the definition of torture in Article 1; and to prevent cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in Article 16. The prohibition on torture is absolute and applies in all circumstances, as specified in Article 2.2: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”. For further information about the Convention, please refer to the links section below.The Committee Against Torture
The Committee is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors state party compliance with the provisions of the Convention. All state parties are required to submit regular Periodic Reports to the Committee on how they are protecting and implementing Convention rights. The Committee’s assessment of each state party is based on the information provided in the state’s Periodic Report, information provided by civil society (non-governmental organisations and individuals), information provided by National Human Rights Institutions and National Preventivee Mechanisms, and through interactive dialogues with state party representatives during the session in which the state is considered. At the conclusion of the session, the Committee provides its concerns and recommendations to each of the states assessed in the form of Concluding Observations. For further information about the Committee, please refer to the links section below.
The 77th session of the Committee is being held from 10 to 28 July 2023: in addition to New Zealand, the Committee will assess the performance of Romania, Spain and Switzerland. The Committee’s Concluding Observations on each of these states will be released at the conclusion of the session.New Zealand and the Convention
New Zealand signed the Convention on 14 January 1986, and ratified it on 10 December 1989. New Zealand ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention (which established a system of regular inspection visits by independent international bodies and National Preventive Mechanisms by each state party to monitor places of detention) on 14 March 2007.
Prior to the current session, the Committee last assessed New Zealand’s compliance with the Convention in 2015 - the Committee’s 2015 Concluding Observations (CAT/C/NZL/CO/6) are available in the links section below, as is the link to the follow up information provided by the government in June 2016 (CAT/C/NZL/CO/6/Add.1).
In advance of the 77th session, the Committee sent the government a List of Issues Prior to Reporting (issues the government was to provide information on in its Periodic Report), and New Zealand’s seventh Periodic Report (CAT/C/NZL/7) was submitted in September 2019 - both documents are available in the links section below.Civil society reports to the Committee
The Committee has received information in five civil society reports, including one from Peace Movement Aotearoa, which it will take into account when assessing the government’s compliance with the Convention. The civil society reports raise a number of concerns in relation to the criminal justice syste, conditions in places of detention, abuse of children in state care, coercive and compulsory practices in psychiatric hospitals, the treatment of asylum seekers, extradition to states that have the death penalty, the operation of the National Preventive Mechanisms, constitutional and legal protection for Convention rights, and the conduct of New Zealand armed forces on overseas combat deployments.
Peace Movement Aotearoa’s report is mainly focused on the treatment of prisoners by the New Zealand armed forces on overseas combat deployments, which has been inconsistent with the provisions of the Convention, other human rights instruments and the Geneva Conventions, and outlines the action taken by the government on each of the four Operation Burnham Inquiry recommendations. As in 2015, we are recommending that if New Zealand armed forces deployed overseas cannot ensure that any prisoners captured during combat or training operations are treated in a manner fully compliant with those provisions, and are not in a position to operate their own detention facilities, then the government must not deploy them. The report also outlines two related issues: the Bilateral Service Cooperation Plan with Australia; and the need for New Zealand to become a state party to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.How you can watch the interactive dialogue
There will be two interactive dialogues between Committee members and government representatives and you can watch the dialogues live at https://media.un.org/en/webtv - the first is on Tuesday, 18 July, from 10am to 12 noon (NZ time: 8pm to 10pm on Tuesday, 18 July, direct link https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1e/k1ex2e0tzf ) and the second is on Wednesday, 19 July, at 3pm (NZ time: 1am on Thursday, 20 July, direct link https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1h/k1ht2iof1n ). The New Zealand delegation of ten will be led by the Secretary of Justice, and includes officials from the Ministry of Justice, Corrections, Ministry of Health, Police, Ministry for Children, and MFAT.Links to further information
• Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-against-torture-and-other-cruel-inhuman-or-degrading
• Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/optional-protocol-convention-against-torture-and-other-cruel
• Information about the Committee Against Torture - https://www.ohchr.org/en/treaty-bodies/cat
• Information about the Committee's 77th session - https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=2663=enNew Zealand civil society reports, the government's seventh Periodic Report (CAT/C/NZL/7), the List of Issues Prior to Reporting (CAT/C/NZL/QPR/7), the Human Rights Commission (NHRI) and National Preventative Mechanisms (NPM) reports are all available on the 77th session page - https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=2663=en - scroll down the page to the 'New Zealand' section, then click on the drop down sections for the information you require.
• Concluding Observations on New Zealand, 2015 (CAT/C/NZL/CO/6) - http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open=CAT/C/NZL/CO/6=E + Information received from New Zealand in follow-up to the Concluding Observations June 2016 (CAT/C/NZL/CO/6/Add.1) - https://daccess-ods.un.org/tmp/564568.340778351.html
• Share this on social media: Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa/posts/675830111240791 Tweet, https://twitter.com/PeaceMovementA/status/1680745929455063041

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