UVA Law Logo Mobile

UN Human Rights Treaties

Travaux Préparatoires


Report of the Secretary-General.

UN Document Symbol A/39/499
Convention Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Document Type Report of the Secretary-General
Session 39th
Type Document

21 p.

Subjects Torture and Other Cruel Treatment

Extracted Text

General Assembly
2 October   1984
Thirty-ninth session Agenda item 99
Report of the Secretary-General
I.      INTRODUCTION        3
Australia        3
Belgium            4
Brazil           5
Canada              5
Denmark        6
Finland           7
France        6
Hungary        8
Ireland        10
Italy        10
Nether lands        12
Norway        14
Portugal        15
Sweden        16
84-21562      1541c   (E)    
A/39/499 English Page 2
CONTENTS   (continued)
Switzerland        17
Tonga            18
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland           19
United States of America            20
English Page 3
1.    In   its resolution 1984/21  of  6  March    1984,   entitled  "draft convention against torture and other  cruel,   inhuman or degrading  treatment or  punishment",   the Commission on Hunan Rights decided  to transmit  to the General Assembly,   through  the Economic and Social Council,   the report of-  the Working Group on a draft convention against  torture   (E/CN.4/1984/72)   as well as the  summary records of   the Commission's debate on  this item during  its  fortieth  session  (E/CN.4/1984/SR.32-34 and 42).     In the same resolution, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to bring the documents referred to above to the attention of the Governments of all States and to invite these Governments to communicate to him, preferably before  1 September   1984,   their comments on   the draft convention contained in the annex to the working Croup's report.    The Commission requested the Secretary-General to submit the comments received from Governments to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth session.
2.    As at 21 September  1984,  the   following Governments had sent  replies Australia,  Belgium, Brazil, Canada,  Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,  Netherlands, Norway, Portugal,   Sweden,  Switzerland, Tonga,   united Kingdom of Great  Britain and Northern Ireland and united States of America.
3.    Any   information which may be received after the above-mentioned date will be included in addenda to the present document.
[Original;    English (14 June   1984)
1.    The Australian Government  remains gravely disturbed by  the  extent of   the practice of  torture world wide and the   fact that through  the existing   international machinery  it has not yet  proved possible effectively  to deal  with   it.    Australia has been consistently active in international efforts directed towards eradicating this abhorrent phenomenon. In particular, Australian delegations have participated actively over   a number of years   in discussions and negotiations in the Commission on Human Rights Working Group set up to draft a convention against torture and other cruel.   Inhuman or degrading   treatment or   punishment.
2.    The Australian Government wishes to record  its  strong support  for   the draft convention  produced by  the Working Group which  has now been  transferred by resolution  1984/21 of  the  fortieth session of  the Commission on Human  Rights  to  the United Nations General Assembly  for   its adoption.    Australia wishes also to emphasize the critical  importance of  mandatory  implementation provisions to the effectiveness of   the convention and  the  need  to remove   the  brackets around draft articles  19 and 20,  leaving   these articles as  they stand.
A/39/499 English
Page 4
3.       The Australian Government encourages all Governments to support adoption of the draft convention when   it is considered by the General Assembly at   Its thirty-ninth session.
(Original     French) (24   August   1984 )
1.    Belgium  is  pleased to note   that,  after  years of  intense debate  and difficult negotiations,   the  Commission on Hunan  Rights  has   fulfilled  the   mandate conferred  on it by  the General Assembly  in  its resolution 36/62 of 8  December  1977.    The General Assembly believing  that  further   international effort to were needed  to ensure adequate protection  for  all  against  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or  degrading treatment  or  punishment,   requested the Commission,   seven years ago,   to draw up a draft convention on  thin subject.
2.    Resolution  1984/21,   in which   the commission on Human Rights decided  to transmit  the tat of a draft Convention  to  the General  Assembly,  may  therefore be considered one of   the major  achievements of   the  fortieth  session of   the Commission.    It constitutes a new and significant step in the international community's struggle against the scourge of   torture and inhuman   treatment.     Belgium consequently attaches great importance to this draft convention.     In view or   the fact that  the  text was negotiated over   a  number  of   years and  that  the   final consensus was obtained  through   the constructive  attitude of   the  various participants in the Marking Group,  Belgium is of   the opinion  that   this draft,   in its  present  form,  is most satisfactory.
3.    Never the less ,   it  is a  compromise  text  and  Belgium would have  liked  to see Curtain passages worded differently,  such as article  1,  paragraph   1   (last  line),  of the draft convention,   where  the  notion of   "lawful sanctions"   is   imprecise and  thus constitutes an even broader  "escape clause"  than article 1  of  the Declaration on the Protection of All  Persons  from Being  subjected  to Torture and Cher  Cruel, Inhuman or  Degrading Treatment or  Punishment  adopted by  the General Assembly on
9 December 1975 and the main source of inspiration for the draft convention. However,   in   the light of   the above considerations and taking into account   that any compromise forms a delicate whole,   Belgium is prepared to accept the draft convention, as submitted to the General Assembly.
4.    However,   this consent   is given on condition that the   two articles that have not yet met with general agreement are retained as   they stand.     Belgium,   like several other   States Members of  the United Nations,  considers  that a  specific convention against torture and other   inhuman  treatment has no reason d 'etre unless it contains an  implementation system   that   Is more  effective   in scope  titan  those that already  exist  in  this area.    At present,   torture and other  cruel,   inhuman or degrading  treatment or  punishment are  already prohibited by  a number  of
international  instruments, namely  the universal  Declaration on Human  Rights  of
1948,   the Geneva Conventions of  1949  and  the Additional  protocols  thereto of  1977,
A/39/499 English Page 5
the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights of 1966 and the above-mentioned Declaration against torture, of 1975. as well as several regional conventions on human rights. The international community can therefore no longer be content with condemning these practices but must set up an international control system, capable of reducing to a minimum or even eliminating the phenomenon. The prohibitions accepted by States in solemn international texts should be accompanied by measures enabling their actual implementation to be verified.
5.       This  is why  Belgium thinks  that articles 19  and 20,   relating   to the submission and consideration of  States'   reports and arrangements  for   inquiries, should  form an integral part of   the  system of  obligatory enforcement of   the Convention  in such  a way as  to apply to all States parties.     In  Belgium's view,   the   purpose of   these provisions   in not  to violate national  sovereignty,  or   to seek   to  interfere   in  the internal affairs of  States parties,   but  to provide  the convention with an appropriate mechanism  for   ensuring   the  application of one of   the  most  fundamental norms of  international  law,  namely  "pacta sunt  servanda".
6.       Belgum hopes that the General Assembly will  be  in a  position to adopt the draft convention at   its  forthcoming  session,   thereby paving   the way  at last  for  an effective  onslaught  by  the   international community on one of   the most  revolting practices known to mankind.
(Original;    English)
(23   August   1984)
The Brazilian Government has no comment to present, at this stage, on   the draft convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or   degrading   treatment of punishment.
(Original:    English]
(8 August 1984)
1.      The Government of Canada strongly supports internalonal action against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.     It considers   that a draft convention on   this subject should not merely represent a reiteration of   the   1975 Declaration on the protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment, but must contain provisions aimed at effective implementation and monitoring of   the protections and standards envisaged in   the convention.    Pursuant  to this position, the Government  of Canada  firmly supports  the   inclusion   in  the  convention of article   19,  paragraphs 3 and 4,  and article 20 which  appear   in  square brackets  in
A/39/499 English Page 6
the text submitted by the Commission on Human Rights to the General Assembly for the consideration.
2. The Government of Canada wishes  to commend  the commission on Human Rights  for accomplishing   the task  of  drafting   this convention and expresses   the hope  that  the convention can be adopted and proclaimed during  the  thirty-ninth  session of   the General Assembly.
[Original    English]
(3 August 1984)
1.    It is a generally accepted principle that no one shall be subjected to torture or   to cruel. Inhuman or   degrading treatment or punishment. This principle is maintained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,   the Declaration on the Protection of All persons   from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel,   inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,   the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and numerous other   international legal instruments.
2.    Nevertheless, evidence of practices of torture and other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment continues to be reported from various parts or the world. No continent is free from this evil which   is a flagrant denial of human dignity.
3.    The  preparation and  adoption of   a convention against  torture    and other  cruel, inhuman or degrading  treatment or  punishment,  which was  initiated    by  the General Assembly in  its resolution 32/62,   is therefore a matter  of utmost    importance,  which should be accorded  the highest possible priority by  the Assembly.
4.    The draft convention submitted by   the Commission on Human Rights   is   the result of long and difficult negotiations.     it is a carefully worked out compromise.     It may not be fully satisfactory to all Governments but, as a compromise text adopted by consensus,   it   is acceptable to Denmark.
5.    Two issues remain open.    No consensus was   reached as to whether   the committee to be established under   the convention should be competent to make "comments and suggestions.   in relation to the   implementation reports by Governments. Consequently, article 19, paragraphs 3 and 4, remain in square brackets.
6.    Furthermore, no final agreement   was reached with regard   to the mandatory nature of the competence of   the committee to initiate inquiries as to the occurrence of systematic torture practices.    Article 20, which sets out a mandatory inquiry procedure,   is therefore placed between square brackets.
7.    Denmark attaches particular   importance to the adoption of effective implementation provisions.     The two outstanding   issues are   important features of an implementation system which would imply significant progress in relation to existing international law.    it  is  the  firm opinion of   the Danish Government   that
English Page 7
the two sets of brackets should be lifted and the text of the convention adopted at it stands.
8.       In order   to safeguard the credibility of the efforts of the United Nations in the fundamental field of human rights, the Danish Government considers that the convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be speedily adopted.     It is hoped that debates on issues, which were settled by the compromise text adopted by consensus and submitted by the Commission on Human Rights, will not be reopened,   thereby postponing even further the adoption of   this important international   instrument.
[Original     English] [11    September    1984)
1.    The Government of Finland has attached great importance to the droit convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment since the work was initiated by Sweden in 1977.    In 1978, the Finnish Government presented its detailed views on the matter   in response to a request by the Secretary-General.     In that  reply,  contained  in document A/3 3/196/Add.l,   it was stated that the Government of Finland hold given a unilateral declaration on  its intention to comply   with  the Declaration on the Protection of All  Persons  from Being Subjected  to Torture and Other Cruel,   Inhuman or  Degrading Treatment or Punishment.    That commitment notwithstanding,   the principles reflected in the Declaration had been observed in Finland over a long period of time.
2.    Thus, it is only natural that in the framework of the open-ended Working Group on this matter established by the Commission on Human Rights, Finland has taken an active Interest  in the preparations of a convention and has contributed to the work since becoming a member of the Human Rights commission  in 1983
3.    The position which the Government of Finland has assumed  in this regard  is based on the conviction that the adoption of a convention against  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading  treatment or  punishment would be a major  step  in  the international efforts  to promote human rights.     It is a generally accepted principle, established i.a in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that no one shall be subjected to torture.    Thus, the purpose of a convention would essentially be to implement existing norms.     Finland,   therefore, attaches great importance to the adoption of provisions for effective implementation.
4.    As to the procedure to be followed in the consideration of the draft convention by the General Assembly, the Finnish Government strongly favours urgent action in this matter.    This means i.a.   that   the draft  text  as  a whole  should not be  reopened  in the General Assembly but  that the Assembly should  rather concentrate its  efforts  on  solving   the question   that  still   remain open.     Adequate   time   and facilities for   informal consultations to this end should be ensured.
English Page 8
(Original:     French
[20   September   1984)
1.    France unequivocally condemns torture, which is an intolerable practice and an affront to dignity and to the human conscience, it believes that it is the duty of the international community to adopt, in a convention, provisions which will permit effective efforts to combat such revolting practiced as torture.
2.    France, which played a very active role within   the Commission on Human Rights in the Working Group on a draft convention against torture, attaches great importance to the adoption of   the draft convention by the General Assembly this very year.
3.    The French Government is in full agreement with all the provisions adopted and hopes, in this connection,   that the Assembly will adopt the whole of the text transmitted by the commission on Human Rights, including articles 19 and 20.
4.    in addition, it attaches particular importance to articles 5 to 7 concerning universal jurisdictional competence. In its opinion, this competence significantly enhances the convention and will permit the attainment of its essential objective action to combat torture and to punish those who engage in it, regardless of   the State party in which they are located.
(Original:     English] (10 May 1984)
1.    The Government of  the Hungarian People's  Republic  is of   the  firm view  that torture and other  similar cruel  treatment of human beings  are  gross violations of human  rights and  fundamental   freedoms,    particularly alarming is   the mass and flagrant nature of  the  violations of   these  fundamental  human rights by  the policy of apartheid,  racial discrimination, colonialism,   nee-colonialism and genocide. Effective and  universal measures have always been advocated by  the Hungarian People's Republic at all  international   forums  against   these unlawful  phenomena  and practices,    consequently,  it supports  the  noble efforts undertaken by  the  united Nations to this effect.    This position of principle has guided the Hungarian Government in following the work of the Commission on Human Rights on the draft convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment with great attention and expectation.
2.    In   the Hungarian people's Republic,   torture and other cruel   treatments being alien to socialist society, are   incompatible with   Its political and legal system. Torture Is explicitly prohibited by the Constitution,   the Penal Code and the Act on criminal Procedure.    Consequently torture   is a severely punishable offence.
A/39/499 English Page 9
3.    The Hungarian Government has,   inter alia,   fully respected and promoted the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights and it is determined to act likewise in the future.    The reporting of the obligations of the Government undertaken by becoming a State party to this Covenant reflects in unequivocal terms that article 7 of   the Covenant is also given full effect In Hungary.
4.    The Government of the Hungarian people's Republic has been looking forward with great expectation to the work carried out by the Commission on Human Rights in elaborating   the draft convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading   treatment or punishment.    While appreciating the work accomplished by the Commission,   it believes that the time has not come yet for   the General Assembly to adopt a convention on the subject.     There remain major issues to be decided, and   it is desirable to reach the widest possible agreement on all provisions of the draft convention for the international cam unity to succeed in combating torture and other cruel treatment effectively.
5.    Therefore,   the Hungarian Government urges general agreement on the outstanding issues, before a convention is adopted by the United Nations.
6.    In order   to facilitate the elaboration of a viable,   effective and universal convention on the subject,   the Hungarian Government wishes to put forward the following suggestions.

(a)    Were a committee against  torture  established,   its  functions  should be   in line with  those of other  similar committees established under   various conventions, such  as  the commission on Human Righto or   the Committee on  the Elimination of Racial  Discrimination!
(b)    The  inquiry procedure,   as envisaged in article 20 of the draft convention,   is at variance with  the well-established principles  of contemporary international  law,   in particular,  resport for   the  sovereignty of  States and non-interference  in  the  internal affairs of states.    Therefore,   the Hungarian Government cannot accept the current wording of article 20 of   the draft convention, it shares, however,   the view that this article should have an optional character.
7.    The Government of the Hungarian people's Republic   is prepared to offer   its
co-operation in overcoming   the difficulties of drafting a convention against
touture. The  moot  appropriate way of  action to this end should be  renewed
consideration of   the draft convention  in   the Commission on Human  Rights with  the
aim of  achieving  general agreement on  the  text of   the  convention as a whole.
A/39/499 English Page 10
[Original:    English) [4 September   1984]
1.    Ireland looks forward to the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a convention against torture and other   forms of cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.     Ireland views  the  adoption of  this  instrument  to be an important  step in the  international  legal protection of   fundamental human  rights, as  laid down in the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights.
2.    The draft convention has taken six years to prepare at working group Level at the Commission on Human Rights.    All involved in preparing the draft will acknowledge the decree of compromise which went with shaping the text that has emerged for consideration by the General Assembly.
3.    The efforts nude  to come to agreement on this draft convention  represent  the degree of  importance attached by  the  international community to formulating effective international  legal protection against torture and other   forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading  treatment or punishment.    While  Ireland may not be totally satisfied with all the detailed provisions of the draft instrument,  on  the grounds that certain provisions could  be  strengthened  to provide greater  protection,   it is felt that the compromise achieved at  the Commission on Human Rights  is of great value and worth maintaining.
4.    Ireland notes that the Working Group was unable to adopt in full only two provisions of the draft convention   (articles 19 and 20).     It is hoped that these articles will be adopted by the General Assembly and will Include effective and mandatory implementation procedures, as envisaged in the draft that will be before the General Assembly.
[Original:     English) [20 September   1984)
1.    The  Italian Government  is deeply disturbed  by  the occurrence  in many  parts of the world of the practice of  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or  degrading treatment or  punishment,  which are among  the most abhorrent  violations of human rights.    This extremely serious situation, which persists in spite of the repeated prohibitions of torture stated by various international   instruments,   is an undeniable sign of the urgent need to strengthen the existing machinery for the effective protection of human rights.
2.    The Italian Government therefore welcomes the conclusion of   the long work done by the Commission on Human Rights to draw up, as requested by the General Assembly in 1977, a draft convention against torture.     It also welcomes  the Commission's
A/39/499 English
Page 11
unanimous decision to transmit the text to the General Assembly, and strongly hopes that, at its current session, the Assembly will accord high priority to the consideration of the draft convention.
3.    The documentation transmitted to the General Assembly together  with   the draft convention clearly shows  that  the  proposed text  is  the outcome of  intensive discussion and difficult negotiations on various points and that on almost all of them compromise was finally  reached,   so that only two provisions of  the draft convention, namely,  article 19,  paragraphs 3 and 4, and article 20,  remain open and are before the Assembly  in square brackets.     Both articles deal with effective and mandatory implementation provisions to which   the Italian Government attaches particular importance as essential features of a convention against torture and similar abominable practices.
4.    Article 19 enables the committee to so. established to make on each report of the States Parties to the convention such comments or suggestions as it may consider   appropriate;  to toward them to the state Party concerned;  and,  at  its discretion, to include them, together with the observations received from the State party,   in its annual report  to the General Assembly.    The  Italian Government  is firmly of   the opinion  that  these  provisions would render more effective the dialogue which develops  between the committee and each  reporting  State during  the consideration of  the letter's reports on the  implementation of  the convention.    The gravity of torture and other   similar   treatment or punishment does require implementation provisions more advanced   than   those established by article 4C of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional protocol thereto.
5.    Article 20 establishes implementation provisions   intended to seek the co-operation of single States Parties to the convention if   the committee to be established receives reliable indications that torture is systematically practised in their territories.    The co-operation of each State Party concerned may develop from the minimum of  submitting   to the committee its own observations  to the extent of co-operating  in a confidential  inquiry made by one or more of   the committee members and of  permitting  a visit to its territory.    These forms of co-operation arc similar to chose envisaged by previously established procedures of and decisions taken by the United Nations since the 1970s when dealing with specific situations of violations of human rights.    For   this reason,   the Italian Government is firmly of the opinion that the provisions established by article 20 of   the draft convention should be a mandatory part of the convention.
6.    As to other   articles of   the draft convention,   the Italian Government notes that some of the compromises achieved are not considered by it as fully satisfactory.     In particular,   it is perplexed by   the definition of   torture contained in article 1, paragraph 1, above all in relation to the concept of "lawful sanctions" which,   in any case, must be understood as referring also to international   law.
7.    However,   the  Italian Government,   in the  light of all   foregoing comments,  is prepared to accept  the draft convention  in  its entirety,   taking  into consideration that  it deals with  a subject of  utmost   importance which  requires greatest attention and  urgent action by  the United nations.
Page 12
(Original    English) (17 July 1984)
1.    The prohibition of torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment has been incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Hunan Rights, the
International covenant on Civil and Political Rights and numerous other
multilateral declarations and conventions.    However,   in spite of this undisputed
norm of international law, torture practices continue to occur   in many places in
the world.    This makes it necessary to find ways and means to strengthen the
existing prohibition of torture.    One way of strengthening   that prohibition consists of further   standard-setting   in this field.
2.    A first important step on   this road was the   adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 of the Declaration on the Protection of All persona from Being Subjected to Torture or Other Cruel,   inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.    Two years later, the Assembly adopted resolution 32/62,   in which   it requested the Commission on Human Rights to draw up a draft convention in the light of   the principles embodied in the 1975 Declaration.
3.    The Netherlands was a co-sponsor  of   that resolution,     in  1964, as a member   of the Commission on Human Rights,   it- also co-sponsored the resolution by which   the Commission  transmitted to the General Assembly a   draft convention against torture and other  cruel,   inhuman or   degrading  treatment or  punishment,  contained  in  the annex to the Commission's Working Group on  this subject.
4.    The Netherlands Government welcomes the result of   the work undertaken by   the Commission on Human Rights in response to the Assembly's request of 1977. it notes with satisfaction that, as far as torture is concerned, most of the principles embodied in the 1975 Declaration have been incorporated as legal obligations in the draft convention transmitted to the General Assembly. It also notes with satisfaction that the draft convention contains a number of provisions which go beyond the contents of   the Declaration.
5.    For   example,   the draft convention does not  only state that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever   such as a  threat of war  or   internal political instability) can justify torture, but it also states explicitly that no order  from a  superior  officer  or  a public authority may be  invoked as a justification  for torture.    The draft provides  that no state party  shall expel,   return or   extradite a person to another  state where  there  are substantial grounds  for  believing  that he would be  in danger   of  being  subjected to torture.     In more  precise terms than those of the Declaration,   the draft convention provided  that the prohibition of torture and other  cruel,   inhuman or   degrading  treatment or   punishment shall be  included  in the  rules and instructions  issued  in regard  to the duties and functions of both civil and military law enforcement personnel, as well as medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved  in  the custody,  interrogation or treatment of any   individual subject  to any  form of   arrest,  detention or imprisonment.
A/39/499 English Page 13
6.    One important aspect in which the draft convention goes beyond the 197S Declaration relates to criminal proceedings in connection with acts of torture, attempts to commit torture and acts which constitute complicity or participation in torture.    With respect to such offences,   the draft contains provisions for   the establishment and exercise of jurisdiction and concerning extradition and mutual assistance among states in connection with criminal proceedings.    The most far-reaching of  these provisions obliges   the State  in whose territory a person suspected of  such  an offence is  found,   to submit the case  to  its competent authorities for  the purpose of prosecution if  it does  not extradite him, even if  the alleged offender   is not  its national and if  the offence was committed abroad.
7.    The Netherlands Government attaches particular   importance to the implementation system of the draft convention.    The Government has always held the view that the value of a specific convention against torture would depend to a large degree on   the Inclusion of effective  implementation provisions  that would go beyond  the  provisions contained  in  the  International Covenant on Civil and Political  Rights and  the Optional  Protocol  thereto.    For that reason it submitted, in 1981, proposals to that effect to the Working Group of   the Commission on Human Rights.    Taking into consideration   that  these proposals did not obtain sufficient support  in the Working Group,  the Government can accept the  implementation articles set out  in the  present draft convention,  provided  that  the provisions of articles 19 and 20 which still  stand between square brackets are  retained.
8.    The definition of torture contained in the draft convention refines in some respects the definition contained in the 1975 Declaration.    The Netherlands Government wishes to make two observations with regard to this definition, as cotout   in article 1, paragraph 1, of   the draft.    The list of purposes mentioned in the first sentence is an illustrative   list, not an exhaustive one.    The word lawful" in the   second sentence must be understood as referring to compatibility with both national and international law.
9.    The Netherlands Government  highly appreciates  the  constructive atmosphere which has characterized  the discussions in   the Working Group of   the Commission on Human Rights,    it   is aware of   the   fact that the draft convention now  transmitted  to the General Assembly  is   the outcome of  intensive  and prolonged deliberations and may be considered the best possible text.    Therefore the Government   is prepared to accept in its entirety the present draft convention against torture and other cruel.   Inhuman or degrading   treatment or   punishment.
10.    The Netherlands Government would regard early adoption of the convention by the General Assembly as an important step in the combat against   the evil of torture.    Taking  into account  that almost  seven years have passed since  the Assembly requested the Commission on Human Rights  to draw up a draft convention  for this purpose,  the Government strongly hopes  that  the General Assembly will decide at  its next session on  the definitive  text,   in order   to open  the  convention for signature and ratification.
Page 14
(Original:    English]
[2 August   1984]
1.    The Norwegian Government considers   the draft convention against torture as an important factor   in the United Nations work in the   field of human rights.    The adoption of   the  draft convention,   at   the earliest  possible  date,  must  be considered as a useful  tool  in the combating of   torture which   is still being  practised  in all regions of  the world.    For   these reasons, the Norwegian Government supports   the adoption, as soon as possible,   and preferably at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, of a convention against torture, containing specific substantive obligations and effective measures of   implementation.
2.    In assessing   the draft convention against torture presented by the Commission on Human Rights, account must be taken of   the lengthy and conscientious work of   the Working Group set up by the Commission to prepare the draft.    After several years of discussion,   the Working Group succeeded in submitting a draft mainly based on consensus.    The Norwegian Government fully supports the results reached by the Working Group, and is willing to accept it as a whole,   even though   it would have wished to see different solutions applied on some minor questions.    In   this respect,   the Norwegian Government would like to express its support for   the statements by Canada and other delegations in paragraphs 14 and 44 of   the report of the Working Group   (E/CN.4/1984/72).    Taking into account, however, that the drift presented by the Working Group is   the result of a broad compromise, where all participants have given concessions,   the Norwegian Government   is willing   to accept the draft as it now stands, without amendments,   in order to obtain a speedy adoption of   the convention.    Since the text of   the draft is based on compromises reached after   lengthy discussions of   the open-ended working Group,   it seems advisable to accept these and avoid a reopening of   the discussions.
3.    when considering   the draft convention as a whole, and  its usefulness in   the universal struggle against  torture,   the content of   the draft must be compared  to the already existing  rules of  international  law relating to torture,   in particular the  relevant provisions of   the  international covenant  or. Civil and Political Rights.    In  this respect,   the Norwegian Government  finds it of   utmost   importance that a new convention against  torture  contain new substantial elements compared with  the rules already in  force,    A mere  repetition, although  somewhat more detailed,  of  already established  rules should not be considered as satisfactory. In  this  respect,   the draft convention contains  two elements which  the Norwegian Government  considers  to be of  utmost  importance,   namely  the  provisions on universal jurisdiction and a  system of effective  implementation.
4.    As concerns  the  few items where  the working Group was not  able to reach
consensus (article 19, paragraphs 3 and 4, and article 20 of the draft convention), the Norwegian Government will express   its support for the texts submitted between square brackets in both articles.    As regards article 19, the Norwegian Government supports the   idea that the committee which will be set up under   the convention, should be given   the competence to make "comments or   suggestions" on   the reports submitted by Governments of States Parties to the convention.
V39/499 English Page 15
5.       As stated in the paragraph 3 above,   effective implementation measures must be considered as one of the two MOSE important elements of tie new convention against torture.     In establishing this system of implementation, a general aim should be to create new measures additional to those already existing in other   international instruments on human rights.    The  rules on  implementation in  the draft convention against torture consist  in a  large part of known elements from conventions adopted earlier,   first of all  the  International  Covenant on Civil and  Political  Rights, inter  alia,  a system of State reports,  and procedures  for State complaints and individual complaints.    The only article which introduced some new elements  into the  implementation system,  is article  20,   and for  this  reason the Norwegian Government   finds this article  to be essential.    As an ultimate resort,   the committee should have competence to start an inquiry when there are reliable indications that torture is being systematically practised in the territory of a contracting state.    The Norwegian Government considers that this procedure should apply to all contracting States as a mandatory part of the convention.
6.      The draft convention has no provisions on its field of application.     In paragraph 5 of  the  report of the Working Group  (E/CN.4/1934/72),   the  representative of  the United States stated his understanding  that  the convention was never intended  to apply to armed conflicts and  thus supersede the  1949 Geneva Conventions on humanitarian law in armed conflicts and the 1977 Protocols Additional  thereto. He stated his  further  understanding  that  incidents covered by  the Geneva Conventions and Protocols thereto would not  fall within the  scope of  the convention against torture  and  that to consider otherwise would  result  in an overlap of  the different  treaties which would undermine the objective of eradicating   torture. This understanding  seems  relevant in relation  to international armed conflicts as defined   in common article  2 of  the  1949 Geneva Convention and article  1, paragraph  4, of  the  First additional  Protocol.     For   these kinds of armed conflicts, the Geneva Conventions and the First Additional Protocol established a system of universal jurisdiction and of implementation that must be considered equal to the system of the convention against torture.    As concerns  internal armed conflicts, however,   these are  governed by  the   Second  Additional   Protocol  of   1977,   where  no provisions of universal  jurisdiction are  to be  found,  and where  the  systems of implementation  are  far   less developed.     For   these reasons,   it could be argued that the convention against torture should apply in all other cases than   in international armed conflicts, as defined by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the First Additional Protocol   thereto.
(Original     English)
(11   September    1984)
The contents of the draft convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, presented by the Economic and Social Council, are in accordance with the precepts and principles of the Portuguese judicial order and of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.
A/39/499 English
Page 16
(Original    English) (18 June 1984)
1.    In the opinion of  the Swedish Government,   the work on a convention against torture  is  important and urgent,  and the adoption of  such a convention would significantly strengthen  the  international  protection of  human rights,   provided that the convention would impose specific substantive obligations on  the contracting States and contain effective  rules for  the  implementation of  these obligations.
2.    The draft convention which has now emerged from the discussion in the working Group of the Commission on Human Rights is the result of long and difficult negotiations and is a compromise text.    As a compromise it is, of course,   not entirely satisfactory to any Government.    The Swedish Government would  also have preferred other  solutions to a number of  the problems  involved but  believes at   the same time that  it would be very difficult,  or  even  impossible,   to draft  a different text which could gain wider  support  or  be accepted by concensus.     In any case,   it does not seem desirable to reopen the discussion of the numerous points which have already been discussed at length within the Working Group and on which compromises were finally found within that Group.    For   these reasons, Sweden is prepared to accept the text which has now been transmitted to the General Assembly.
3.    In regard to two articles, however, i.e., articles 19, and 20 of the draft convention, no consensus could be reached in the Working Group, and the Swedish Government therefore wishes to comment specifically on these two points.
4.    Articles  19 and 20 deal with  the  important elements  in the system for   the implementation of  the convention,  and as stated above,   it  is the opinion of   the
Swedish Government that effective international implementation should be one of the basic features of the new convention.
5.    As regards article  19,   the question  is whether  the committee which will  be set
up under   the convention with  the  task,   inter  alia,  of   examining  the   reports
submitted by Governments should be competent to make  "comments or  suggestions" on
such reports.    The Swedish Government considers that the committee should be given
Such competence
6.    As regards article  20,   the Swedish Government considers  it  to be an essential part of  the  implementation system that  the committee should be  able,  as an ultimate resort,  to institute an  inquiry,  if there are reliable   indications  that  torture  is being  systematically  practised   in the  territory of   a contacting State.     In  view of the  importance of such a procedure within the  implementation system,   the Swedish Government is  firmly of  the opinion  that   it should  apply  to all contracting States and,  consequently,  be a mandatory part  of   the convention.
7.    The Swedish Government hopes  that  the General  Assembly will deal  speedily with the draft convention transmitted  to it by the Commission on Human Rights and  that
A/39/499 English Page 17
it will  find it  possible  to adopt the convention without delay-    This would undoubtedly be a significant contribution to the  international efforts  to eliminate a particularly serious type of violation of human rights, which is generally condemned but is nevertheless widely practised.
[Original     French] [26   August   1984]
1.    The strengthening of the prohibition against torture through effective international measures is,   for Switzerland, a priority objective in the quest for improved protection of persons deprived of their liberty.    That  is why the  Swiss Government  firmly supported the  initiative  taken by the Commission on Human Rights at  its  thirty-fourth  session,   in 1978,   to establish a working group  responsible  for preparing  a draft convention against torture and other  cruel,   inhuman or  degrading treatment or  punishment.     In this same spirit Switzerland participated from the outset, as an observer,   in the deliberations of this working group.
2.    The draft convention is the result of   long and difficult negotiations, but the results finally achieved by the Commission on Human Rights this year are, on the whole, positive.    On a number of points,   the draft  indeed strengthens existing international  law by imposing on States the obligation to take a whole series of steps  intended  to ensure  the prevention and punishment of acts of  torture,  as well as the protection of  persons deprived of their  liberty against these  acts and  the compensation of any victims.    Moreover,   the draft provides for an international implementation system which should to some extent ensure the effectiveness of this convention.     It also leaves  intact   the regime  set up by  the   1949 Geneva Conventions and their  Additional  Protocols,  and does not affect  toe role  played  in  this context by  the International  Committee of  the Red Cross.
3.    The draft convention is a compromise text which was adopted by consensus by the commission on Human Rights after   six years of discussions.     The various concessions made on this text should make it acceptable to the international community as a whole.    In the opinion of   the Swiss Government, a reopening of   the discussion at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly - on all   the provisions of the draft accepted by the commission on Human Rights would make it extremely difficult to achieve a consensus on a new text and would only delay the adoption of   the convention.
4.    The Swiss Government is therefore able to accept the draft convention drawn up by  the Commission on Human Rights,  although  it docs not consider  this  text  to be entirely satisfactory on all points,  particularly with  regard to the  international mechanism for monitoring   implementation of   the convention.
5.    In the opinion of the Swiss Government,   the more stringent the system to monitor   implementation of the convention,   the greater the protection against torture of persons deprived of their   liberty.     In  this regard,   articles  17  to  24 of
A/39/499 English Page 18
the drafts are compromise texts representing. a minimum to which the Swiss Government can subscribe,   for these provisions reconcile, although Imperfectly, two essential imperatives the establishment of the most effective possible monitoring machinery and the need to ensure acceptance of the convention by the largest possible number of states.
6.    Only two provisions of  the draft,  namely article  19,   paragraphs 3  and 4,  and article 20, which deal with the implementation system were not accepted by a consensus  in  the  Commission on Hunan  Rights.     the  Swiss Government   feels  that   the Committee against Torture provided  for   in the draft should automatically have  the powers stipulated  in article 19,  paragraphs 3  and  4,  and article 20,   as  they would enable the committee to play an effective role  in the  struggle against  torture throughout the world.    A convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that did not contain these two provisions would not represent sufficient progress beyond the current state of   international law.
7,    The Swiss Government hopes that the General Assembly will be able this year to adopt the draft convention transmitted to it by the Commission on Human Rights. There is an urgent need to reinforce the prohibition against torture through effective international measures to achieve greater protection of persons deprived of   their   liberty against this type of serious violation of   human rights.
(Original:    English]
[11 June 1984]
Article 3
"No State Party shall expel,   return  (refouler)  or extradite a person to another  state where  there arc substantial  grounds for  believing  that he would be  in danger of  being  subjected to torture".
1.    The Tonga Government endorses the view that it might wish to declare at the time of signature or ratification of the convention or accession thereto that it does not consider   itself bound by article 3 in so far as that article might not be compatible with obligation twoards States not parties to the convention under extradition treaties concluded before the dose of the signature of the convention.
Articles 5, 6, 7,   16 and 17 to 24
2,    The Government of Tonga. reserves its final position with respect to the
questions listed below (covered by the above articles), and the deliberations
concerning other elements of the draft convention:
(a)     Universal criminal   jurisdiction,
(b)     States Parties ensuring that the victims not only   torture but also of
Page 19
other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment obtain redress and have an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation,
(c)    Provisions relating to implementation.
[Original    English)
(21   September    1984)
1.    The United Kingdom abhors the practice of torture and all   forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading   treatment.    The  United Kingdom regards  the work done by   the Commission on Human  Rights on   the  drafting of a convention against tort-ire and other  cruel,   inhuman or  dograding  treatment or   punishment as an   Important  landmark in  the continuing effort to eliminate torture wherever   it occurs.
2.    The United Kingdom dose not regard the draft in its latest form as altogether ideal.     In particular,   the United Kingdom believes   that   the exclusion of pain or suffering deriving from lawful sanctions from article 1 of the convention is undesirable.     It should be understood that any such sanctions must be lawful under international as well as national law.    The United Kingdom would also have wished the concept of purely gratuitous torture, unfortunately not an unknown phenomenon, to be included in the list of motivations for   torture given in article 1 of   the draft convention.
3.    In   addition,   it is the view of   the United Kingdom that,   in certain aspects, the definition of torture contained in article 1 of   the draft convention is rather loose and susceptible to subjective   interpretation.    The United Kingdom believes, for example,   that   it would be difficult for courts to assess the concept of Mental suffering,   particularly when linked to a motive ouch as discrimination.
4.    Nevertheless,   the United Kingdom recognizes that,   in discussion at working group level at the Commission on Human Rights,   participating States adopted a constructive approach based on readiness to accept compromise.    The  United Kingdom is prepared  to accept the  text adopted at  the Con-mission on Human Rights,   though not  fully satisfied  that  that  text  is  ideal,   in  the  interests  of  securing   the earliest possible adoption of  a convention against  the  abhorrent practice of torture.
5.    Kith  regard to the  square brackettef passages in articles 19 and 20,   the United  Kingdom   favours   the   inclusion  of   provisions  designed  to  ensure   that   the proposed committee has an effective  role  to play  in monitoring  compliance with   the convention.
A/39/499 English
page 20
(Original     English] [18 September   1984)
1.    The United States Government welcomes   the receipt of the draft convention
against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which
is included as an annex to the report of   the Working Group of the Commission on
Human Rights appearing in document E/CN.4/1984/72.    The successful completion of
the draft convention by the Working Group of   the Commission on Human Rights after
long,   thoroughgoing negotiations constituted an outstanding achievement.
2.    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights   (article 5) proclaims that     "NO one shall be subjected to torture or   to cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".    The practice of torture or related treatment constitutes one of   the roost flagrant of human rights abuses which can be perpetrated against the individual person.     It is outrageous and unacceptable that in today's world instances of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are all too frequent occurrences in numerous countries.     The mandate of the Charter   of   the united Nations to promote and encourage respect  for  human rights requires  that  the United Nations devote  priority attention  to  the development  of effective  measures to strengthen the capacity of   the  world community to combat  this evil.    To this end,   the draft convention could prove to be a major   new instrument of control.    Prompt action by the General Assembly to approve the draft convention should be taken.
3.    Representatives of the United States Government participated actively throughout the sessions of   the Working Group of   the Commission on Human Rights which were devoted to the preparation of   the draft convention.    During the course of these negotiations.   United  States  representatives made a number  of declarations and  interpretive  statements which  are  contained  in the official records of  the negotiations,  a part of   the legislative history of   the convention.    The United States Government,   in expressing   its support for   the draft convention and  for approval of  it  by   the United Nations General Assembly,  maintains all  of  the declarations and  interpretive  statements made on  its behalf   throughout  the course of   the negotiations.
4.    On  this occasion,   it would be appropriate to reiterate  the views of   the  United States Government on two elements of   the draft convention which  the United states Government considers to be essential  if   the  convention  is  to serve as an effective instrument.    First,   the united states Government considers   it of   utmost importance that the draft convention contain provisions which provide adequately for universal jurisdiction.      In   the opinion of   the United States Government,   the   formulations now contained in articles 5, 6,   and 7 are   fully satisfactory.    They represent   the product of careful and thorough study of a complex matter   and constitute the best compromise of varying points of view.    The provisions of   the   three articles achieve the desired result of a workable, effective system of universal criminal jurisdiction.    Second,   the  United States Government  attaches equal   importance to the  inclusion in  the draft convention on adequate  provisions of   its
A/39/499 English Page 21
implementation.     In the opinion of   the United states Government,   the  implementation system now  included  in  part   11  or   the  convention,  entering   upon a  committee against torture to be established under  the convention,   represnts a well-conceived,  adequately circumscribed scheme which contains  the minimal elements neceaaary  for Assuring effective control over compliance with  the convention.    The United States Government   in particular strongly supports the retention of articles   19 and 20 in their entirety,   including   those provisions which appear in the report of the Working Group.
5.      A   final comment concerns the definition of the term "tortureî which appears in article 1.    the United States Government understands  this proposed definition as covering   torture done  for  any motive or   purpose and not only for   the reasons  set out  in  the illustrative  list contained in article  1.    The reference to "lawful sanctions"   in the second sentence of paragraph 1 of article 1 must be understood to mean sanctions which are "lawful" under both national and international law
6-      The  United States Government  considers that the draft convention prepared by the working Group after  seven years of  arduous  negotiations which has  been submitted by the Commission on Hunan Rights  to the General Assembly  for   its adoption constitutes  the best possible draft,   fairly representing a carefully considered composite of  various views.    the United States Government supports the recommendation of   the Commission on Human Rights that the General Assembly consider the draft convention as a matter of priority, with a view to its early adoption. The United States Government is prepared to offer its strong support to a resolution to be adopted by the General Assembly, at its thirty-ninth session, by which the Assembly would adopt in its entirety, without change, the draft convention against troture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as prepared by the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights.