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The UN Committee against Torture

The Committee against Torture is a body of ten independent experts established under the Convention against Torture. It considers reports submitted by States Parties regarding their implementation of the provisions of the Convention and issues concluding observations. It may examine communications from individuals, if the state concerned has agreed to this procedure by making a declaration under Article 22 of the Convention. There is also a procedure, under Article 20, by which the Committee may initiate an investigation if it considers there to be ‘well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised in the territory of a State Party’.

A new Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2002. This established a complementary dual system of regular visits to places of detention in order to prevent torture and ill-treatment. The first of these is an international visiting mechanism, or a ‘Sub-Committee’ of ten independent experts who will conduct periodic visits to places of detention. The second involves an obligation on states parties to set up, designate or maintain one or several national visiting mechanisms, which can conduct more regular visits. The international and national mechanisms will make recommendations to the authorities concerned for the purposes of improving the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and the conditions of their detention.