37th session (26 February - 23 March 2018)
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture andother cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and with the SpecialRapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Statement delivered by the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT)
OMCT welcomes the focus of the reports to the Council by SpecialRapporteurs Nils Melzer and Michel Forst.
In a context where migrants are increasingly exposed to the risk of humanrights violations including torture and ill-treatment, both in their countriesof origin and of transit and destination, we express our serious concern overStates’ trend to engage in migration control policies and internationalmigration agreements - such as the ones between the EU and Turkey or Libya - which undermine or actively disregard theabsolute prohibition of torture and the non-refoulement principle.
We are also alarmed by the growing tendency of States to resort todeprivation of liberty of migrants as a routine or mandatory practice, and stand by Mr. Melzer’s view that such practices alltoo often fall short of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, inparticular when involving survivors of torture, children and persons in need ofinternational protection.
Mr. Melzer, what measures should be taken to ensure that governments refrainfrom such agreements with other States or non-State actors and that do not circumvent their own internationalobligations to exercise duediligence to prevent and protect migrants from torture at the hands of privateactors? Could you further comment on the threshold to establish Stateresponsibility for complicity in torture or other ill-treatment againstrefugees and migrants?
Mr. Forst, OMCT is also worried by the increased repression andstigmatisation of defenders of the rights of people on the move in a number ofcountries, such as in Mexico, Greece, Spain and France, aswell as by restrictive laws thatseriously impact such efforts by civil society, as for example in Hungary.
As stressed in your report, defenders themselves can becomepeople on the move when they are forced to flee their country due to threats. Whatmeasures should be taken to guarantee that defenders can continue theiractivities while in exile, so that States do not succeed in silencing theirvoices and the ones of victims?
OMCT strongly supports therecommendations of Mr. Forst’s mission reporton Mexico and calls on his mandate to engage with the Mexican authorities fortheir effective implementation, and to urge them to repeal the Law on Internal Security, which would create additionalrisks for defenders in the country.
We further echo Mr. Melzer’s serious concerns in his mission report overthe rising allegations of torture and other ill-treatment since the failed coupattempt of July 2016 in Turkey. Could you confirm whether a follow-up visit has already beenscheduled? Given the widespread repression against defenders, has a joint mission with Mr. Forst beenconsidered? It is particularly crucial to continue raising concerns over thedangers of a permanent state of emergency in order to prevent emergencymeasures that create an environment conductive to torture and impunity frombeing enshrined into ordinary law.
Finally, OMCT recalls, drawing on Mr. Melzer’s report on extra-custodialuse of force presented to the General Assembly, that individuals cannot losetheir protection against torture and ill-treatment in the context of protests,and urge those states were excessive use of force to disperse peaceful protestshas been documented, such as the DRC,Togo, Sudan, Spain or Honduras, to uphold the prohibition of torture andcarry out prompt and effective investigations.