The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the UNCAT) is an international human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984. It came into force on June 26, 1987, after it was ratified by the required number of countries.
The purpose of the Convention is to prevent and prohibit the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. It establishes a comprehensive framework to combat and eradicate torture worldwide. The Convention defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes such as obtaining information, punishment, intimidation, or discrimination. It also prohibits other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, which may not amount to torture but are still considered unacceptable.
Under the Convention, states that have ratified it are required to take various measures to prevent and combat torture within their jurisdiction. These measures include:
- Prohibiting and criminalizing torture in domestic legislation.
- Taking effective legal, administrative, and other measures to prevent torture.
- Conducting prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of torture and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.
- Providing redress, compensation, and rehabilitation to victims of torture.
- Prohibiting the use of statements obtained through torture as evidence in legal proceedings.
The Convention also establishes a monitoring mechanism called the Committee Against Torture. This committee is composed of independent experts who review states’ implementation of the Convention and provide guidance and recommendations to ensure compliance. States parties are required to submit periodic reports to the committee on their implementation efforts.
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is one of the fundamental international human rights instruments aimed at protecting individuals from torture and ill-treatment. It reflects the global commitment to the eradication of torture and the promotion of human dignity.