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Annual Report 2021

Committee Against Torture

The OMCT submitted seven alternative reports to the UN Committee against Torture.

In 2021, the work of the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) continued to be severely affected by Covid-19. The first CAT session of the year was scaled down again and the Committee decided not to conduct any State reviews online or to take any decisions on individual communications.

Together with other international anti-torture organisations, the OMCT appealed to the Committee members to resume their important functions online, stressing that their role as the main global anti-torture body was urgently needed at a time when States were increasingly refusing to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture. The pandemic had worsened an already alarming situation, with torture and other ill-treatment spreading in detention and police violence on the rise when enforcing Covid-19 measures or during protests. The vulnerability of already marginalised groups such as migrants and indigenous peoples was heightened, while violence against women and children had increased.

After an interruption of 18 months, the Committee finally resumed its functions in July and held an online review of a State, Belgium.

  • Addressing excessive use of force by the police as torture: In early 2021, we organised an online thematic briefing with the CAT experts on the extra-custodial use of force amounting to torture and other ill-treatment, which resulted in a Report.
  • Migration and Torture: The OMCT’s SOS-Torture Working Group on Migration and Torture organised a thematic briefing for the Committee in November. Four experts from the Working Group discussed the main findings of their joint research conducted since 2020 on torture on migration routes in Africa and called upon the Committee members to integrate the migration perspectives throughout their work.
  • Increased visibility for the work of treaty bodies: The OMCT is a member of TB-Net, a platform composed of human rights groups which each work in strategic partnership with one of the UN treaty bodies – the independent experts tasked with monitoring how States implement our most fundamental human rights. In 2021, we increased the visibility of how these 10 treaty bodies work. This was achieved through systematically updating information for civil society organisations, in order to facilitate and strengthen their engagement with treaty body sessions, including the Committee against Torture, through a new website, multilingual newsletters (see the first and second editions) and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The OMCT contributed to the November-December session with four alternative reports: one on Bolivia, one on Nigeria and two on Kyrgyzstan (here and here). As travel restrictions were gradually lifting, the OMCT could conduct two field missions in Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria to help prepare civil society reports and advocacy. We also provided training for local journalists to increase their awareness of the CAT process and help them bring their State’s review to their respective national audiences.

"In Nigeria, the police uses torture to solve crimes"

Honest Hoffor, our partner in Nigeria speaks about the #EndSARS movement, a series of protests against a very brutal unit of the police.

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