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The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Established in 1985 by the UN Commission on Human Rights, this mandate is a non-treaty, “UN Charter-based” body, the purpose of which is to examine international practise relating to torture in any state regardless of any treaty the state may be bound by. On the basis of information received, the Special Rapporteur can communicate with governments and request their comments on cases that are raised. He or she can also make use of an “urgent action” procedure, requesting a government to ensure that a particular person, or group of persons, are treated humanely. The Special Rapporteur can also conduct visits if invited, or given permission, by a state to do so. The reports of these missions are usually issued as addenda to the main report of the Special Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteur reports annually and publicly to the UN Commission on Human Rights and to the UN General Assembly. The reports to the Commission contain summaries of all correspondence transmitted to governments by the Special Rapporteur and of correspondence received from governments. The reports may also include general observations about the problem of torture in specific countries, but do not contain conclusions on individual torture allegations. The reports may address specific issues or developments that influence or are conducive to torture in the world, offering general conclusions and recommendations.