23 October 2012
While there remains much to be concerned about, we believe that working in collaboration with our colleagues at the UN – in particular the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Committee against Torture – and elsewhere we can continue to make steady progress in erecting safeguards to help prevent torture and ill-treatment from occurring and we look forward to more States parties joining us on this journey.
Professor Evans will present the fifth annual SPT report to the General Assembly, the main deliberative, policymaking and representative function of the UN comprising all 193 members, which provides a forum for discussion of the full spectrum of international issues.
Professor Evans, an expert in international human rights at the University of Bristol Law School was elected Chair of the SPT in 2010. The international body has a purely preventive mandate focused on field visits to places of deprivation of liberty with a view to reducing the risk of torture or ill-treatment as well as on advising and assisting States in the establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms and engaging with those mechanisms in the advancement of their work. It co-operates also with other international, regional and national bodies and agencies engaged in activities related to torture prevention.
Comprising independent experts in the area of torture prevention the SPT was established in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture of June 2006. The treaty creates a two-pillar system, at the international and national levels, designed to prevent torture and other forms of ill treatment in all places of detention.
Professor Evans said: “Our major goal is to see effective National Preventive Mechanisms established in all States parties in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture criteria as swiftly as possible. When coupled with international oversight by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, we consider this to be the most potent means possible to prevent torture and ill-treatment.
“The recent significant increase from ten to 25 members of this key UN torture-prevention body led the SPT to conclude that it can most effectively conduct its work by undertaking an increased number of shorter field visits with a more targeted focus.
"While there remains much to be concerned about, we believe that working in collaboration with our colleagues at the UN – in particular the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Committee against Torture – and elsewhere we can continue to make steady progress in erecting safeguards to help prevent torture and ill-treatment from occurring and we look forward to more States parties joining us on this journey.”
Professor Evans also highlighted that an SPT visit is designed to set in motion an on-going preventive dialogue. At the end of 2011, the SPT announced that it would conduct six visits in 2012 – twice as many as before – with three of these targeted on providing advice and assistance regarding the work of National Preventive Mechanisms.
The Committee’s expansion is the result of increased ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), which currently has 63 State parties.
Following his presentation, Professor Evans will be taking part in a Press Conference held jointly with himself, the Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
During the week he will also be meeting with these experts in a side-event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Denmark for discussions around the theme of reprisals, discussing also a draft General Assembly Resolution on Torture, as well as meeting with the Permanent Missions of various countries to discuss OPCAT.