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Report of the Secretary-General.

UN Document Symbol A/39/499/Add.1
Convention Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Document Type Report of the Secretary-General
Session 39th
Type Document

13 p.

Subjects Torture and Other Cruel Treatment

Extracted Text

General Assembly
24 October 1984
Thirty-ninth session Agenda   item   99
Report of   the Secretary-General
Austria        2
Burundi           2
Cyprus        3
Greece        4
Iraq        8
Luxembourg        8
New   Zealand        9
Panama        9
Spain        11
Yugoslavia        12
B4-24951      1224n   (E)    
Page 2
(Original     English) (5 October 1984)
1.    The Government of Austria,  like many other Governments.   Is deeply and gravely disturbed by the continuing practice of  torture  throughout  the world and by the fact  that existing   international  instruments and  the machinery provided  therein have not been able to eradicate   torture.    Austria has been supporting all efforts aimed at the eradiction of  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or  punishment.    In this context,   it has  to be pointed our  chat Austrian delegations have been participating actively  in negotiations of   the past years  leading to the draft convention now under consideration.
2.    The Government of Austria   is aware  that  the existing draft  instrument constitutes a compromise between a  series of  proposals and  suggestions forwarded by a number  of delegations and,   therefore,  does not provide  for as  strong an implementation machinery as  the Austrian Government would have wished  to be set  up by  the envisaged convention.
3.    The Government of Austria, nevertheless, wishes to put on record its support for   the draft convention elaborated by the working Group set up by the Human Rights Commission.
4.    in conclusion,   the Government of Austria wishes to emphasize the decisive
importance of mandatory  implementation provisions to the effectiveness of  the
convention,    without even  those minimal   implementation  provisions,   the draft would
fail   to make a contribution  to   the  promotion of human rights going beyond existing international  instruments
(Original     French) 13 August 1984)
1.    We cannot praise  this draft convention too highly.    However,  some remarks  are called  for on certain articles.
2.    in paragraph 1 of  article   3, where  it is stated  that  "no State Party shall expel.,   return   (ìrefouler")   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",  mention  is made only  of  "torture",  and not of  any other   form of cruel treatment.
A/39/499/Add. 1 English
Page 3
3.    Articles  5, 6 and 7 advocate a universal Jurisdiction.    Our Government while
recognizing  the  intrinsic merits of  this concept,  has some doubts about   its practical   implementation.
4.    The  State party concerned would not always be willing  to submit  to such a jurisdiction or   to its rulings.    The status of   the  individual as a subject of international  law remains a moot point; an international  jurisdiction.  with no means of enforcement, would in practice have limited powers.    Such a jurisdiction might apply moral sanctions,  but  its scope for direct action would be  limited.
5.    Our Government considers that the solution lies  in  the good will of   the individual  States Parties to the convention, who alone command the necessary powers to ensure   the enforcement of  law in all  its ramifications.     It  is therefore  up to these States to enact the necessary  legislation for  the punishment of  torture and other  reprehensible acts.
6.    Article 20,  paragraph 1,  provides  for   the committee  receiving "information which appears  to it  to contain reliable  indications that  torture  is being systematically practised  in the  territory of  a State Party".    This paragraph raises the question of   the sources of such reliable  information and  the criteria which  the Committee should apply  in considering any  information  it might receive.
7.    Nevertheless,   the  inquiry system provided  for   in article 20 marks a step forward  in practical arrangements for enforcing  international  instruments.
[Original    English] (11 October   1984)
1.    In spite of  the  fact  that  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment or  punishment  is prohibited world-wide,   still with great regret  it  is noticed  that  torture practices continue  to occur   in many countries.    Thus,   the adoption of   a new international  instrument  is more  imperative now than ever.
2.    It  is our  stand  that certain articles of   the convention could be  improved,  so as  to cover other acts of cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment,  as  is  the case with article  3 of  the convention!  however,   in view of  the general consensus reached at  the meeting held at Geneva,   it  is not desirable to make any amendments at  this stage and  thus,  give  the opportunity of reopening discussion.
3.    Furthermore,  it  is our stand that the draft convention,  the product of detailed discussions  in the Working Group and now pending before  the United Nations General Assembly for adoption,   should be accepted as a whole,  particularly as regards  the  Implementation provisions contained  in articles  19 and 20 which should be made mandatory and not optional.
A/39/499/Add.l English Page  4
(Original:    English) (10 October  1984)
1.    Greece  attaches  the greatest  importance  to the  fight against  the  heinous act of  torture.    The adoption of  a bill against  torture by the Greek  Parliament,  which will complete existing  legislation,   is   imminent.    A translation of   this  bill  is enclosed.    Greece has strongly supported the drafting of   the convention against torture and other cruel,   inhuman or degrading  treatment or punishment and considers the present draft a milestone and a decisive  step forward.    The draft  is  in many ways a remarkable document.    Greece emphasizes  in particular  its satisfaction with the  implementation system and the adoption of mandatory  international jurisdiction.    However  the draft convention  is far   from an  ideal or  a flawless text.     Indeed,   it is  fraught with minor weaknesses and  is characterized by a certain  lack of precision on a number of   issues.    Nevertheless, Greece realizes that any  international  legal  instrument of  this kind  is necessarily and  inevitably a product of compromise.    It  took  six years of  strenuous efforts  to overcome  the multiple and unforeseen  impediments to the drafting of  this convention, which,   in our view,   is  long overdue  in a world where  the abhorrent practice of   torture continues unabated.
2.    Greece  is  therefore prepared to accept the draft convention against  the act of torture as  it stands and would  like  to see  it adopted at  the earliest possible date.
A/39/499/Add.l English
Page 5
Appendix Bill for the penal punishment, of  torture
Article 137 A  is added to the special section of chapter  A of  the Penal Code entitled  "Offences against the existing system of government".    The  said article   is the following!
Article  137 A:    Torture and other  abuses of human dignity
1.    A public official,  civil or military,  whose duties  Include prosecution, investigation,  examination of criminal offences,  breaches of discipline, enforcement of  penalties,   protection or guardianship of  a person,   is  subject to imprisonment if,  in the course of his duties, he inflicts torture on any person under hie authority with  the purpose of,     (a)   obtaining from him or  from a   third person a confession,   a testimony,   information or a statement,   in particular  one denouncing or  approving a political or  any other  type of   ideology   (b)   punishing! and   (c)   Intimidating him or  third persons,    A public official,  civil or military, is subject  to  the  same punishment,  when,  under  orders of his  superiors or on his own  initiative,   he usurps such powers and  performs  the duties mentioned  in  the above paragraph.
2.    The act of   torture consists of  any systematic infliction of  acute physical pain or  physical  exhaustion endangering  the health of a person or  psychological pain leading  to severe psychological  injury,   as well as any  illegal use of chemicals,  drugs or  other natural or  artificial  means capable of  bending the victim's will,
3.    A minimum of  two years'   imprisonment is set  for cases not explicitly mentioned in paragraph  2,  unless stricter punishment  is provided for.    These include bodily harm,  health damage,  exercise of   illegal physical and psychological violence and any other commensurate severe  abuse of  human dignity committed by persons  under   the circumstances and purposes provided for   in paragraph 1.    Abuses of  human dignity include   in particular)     (a)   the use of  a  lie detector   (b)   extended solitary confinement!   (c)  sexual  harassment.
4.    The  spirit of  the present  article does not  include sets or  consequences related to the  lawful  execution of punishments or  to any lawful  restriction of freedom or other   lawful measure of procedural  enforcement.
Article  137  B   18  added  to  the   special  section  of   chapter   A of   the  Penal  Code entitled "offences against the existing system of government".    The said article provides as  follows:
A/39/499/Add.1 English
Page  6
Article 137  B:    Special cases
1.    The acts of   the  first paragraph of  the previous article are punishable  by a
minimum of   10 years'   imprisonment:
(a)    If methods or  means of  systematic  torture are used,   in  particular, beatings on   the victim's soles,  electroshock,  fictitious execution or  the use of hallucinatory substances)
(b)    If  they result  in serious bodily damage  to the victims!
(c)    If  the perpetrator  commits these  acts on a  regular  basis or   If circumstances  indicate that he  is exceptionally dangerous!
Id)     If   the  perpetrator,   in his capacity as a superior,  gave  the orders  to commit  the act.
2.    The acts of  paragraph 3 of  the previous article are punished by  imprisonment
of up to 10  years,  when cases  (b),   (c)   or   (d)   of  the previous  paragraph apply.
3-      Should   the above acts  result   in the death of   the victim,   life  imprisonment  is imposed.
Article 137 C is added to the Penal Code entitled  "Offences against   the existing system of government".    The said  article  is the  following.
Article 137  C:  Accessory penalties
1.       The conviction  for  acts of  articles  137  A and 137  B entails   ipso jure deprivation  of political  rights!    permanent  in  the case of conviction for   life imprisonment, a minimum of 10 years  in case of  imprisonment and a minimum of five years   in case of   Imprisonment when no other  provision exists entailing  more severe deprivation.     It also results  in  incapacity to acquire attributes  provided in case 1 of  article 63:    permanent  in cases of confinement and 10 years   in cases of   imprisonment.
Article 137 D is added to the  Penal  Code entitled "Offences against   the existing system of government".    The said  article  is the following!
Article  137  D:    General provisions
1.       A state of  emergency cannot exclude  the  illegal character  of   the acts of articles 137 A and 137 B.
A/39/499/Add.1 English Page  7
2.    A superior's order  concerning  the acts of articles  137  A and 137  B cannot exclude  their   ill character.
3.    in the event that the acts of articles 137 A and 137 B are carried out during a period or  a non-democratically elected Government,  the date of prescription begins only with the restoration of legitimate authority.
4.    The victim of the acts of articles 137 A and 137 B is entitled to claim from the offender as well as from the State - both of which are liable in toto for the damages suffered - due compensation for psychological and moral   injuries.
At the end of article  239   (a)  of  the  Penal Code,   the  following phrase  is added:     "provided the act  is not more severely punished according to articles  137  A and 137 B.
The present law enters into force as of   the date of   its publication  in  the Official Gazette.
Page  8
[Original:    Arabic)
14 October   1984]
The provisions of the draft convention which prohibit torture and make it an offence conform generally in spirit with the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution and Iraqi legislation in force. However, the Iraqi Government wishes to make the following observations:
1.    The  title of  the draft  is comprehensive,    that   is meant by  "torture"   is defined   in part I,  article 1,  paragraph 1.   but the concept of   "cruel,   inhuman or degrading  treatment or punishment"  remains undefined.
2.    The  Iraqi Government considers  that,   in  the  last sentence of  article  1, paragraph 1,  the word  "measures" should be   inserted after   the word  "sanctions".
3.    Article 3 provides broad grounds for non-extradition of persons whose extradition  is requested under  agreements concluded and  rules recognized  in  that regard)   in addition,   there may also be negative effects on  international   relations.
4.    The  Iraqi Government has some reservation with  regard to articles  5,   6 and 7 of the draft convention.
5.    Article 8  is,   in general,  without  Justification,  because  the offence of torture  is an offence  like all  other  offences and  the general   rules relating  to extradition apply to it.
6.    Article   20 of   the draft contains provisions which   infringe on  the sovereignty of   the State  and  interfere   In  its  internal affairs,  which  is unacceptable.
[Original     French! (5 October   1984)
1.    Luxembourg wishes to express great satisfaction with  the  fact  that   the Commission on Human Rights,   in accordance with  the mandate entrusted to  It by  the thirty-second  session of   the General Assembly,  has drawn up a draft convention against  torture and other cruel,   inhuman or  degrading  treatment of  punishment,  and has  transmitted it to the General Assembly.
2.    Luxembourg  believes  that  thi3 document  represents an  important stage  in  the efforts of   the  international community to put an end to the abhorrent practice of torture  and   inhuman treatment.
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3.    Luxembourg naturally attaches high priority to the matter  and expresses  the hope  that  this   Important convention will enter   into force without undue delay.
4.    Luxembourg   is cognizant of  the  fact  that  the  text of  the convention has been
drawn up only  after  hard and long negotiations.     Even though  it contains some expressions which we would have preferred to see formulated with greater exactness
and precision,   Luxembourg  is pleased  to announce that  it   is able  to accept the  text as submitted  to the General Assembly.
5.    Luxembourg   is,   indeed,   aware that  thin compromise text  is a  fragile work which cannot be altered without risking the collapse of  the whole carefully constructed edifice.
6.    An essential condition  for  this consent,  however,   la that articles 19 and  20 of   the draft,   relating  to the submission and consideration of  reports  from States and  the establishment of  an  Inquiry system - on which  there   is  still no general agreement - should be kept  in  their present form and become  an  integral  part of  the mandatory  implementation system applicable to all States which accede to the convention.
7.    The Government of Luxembourg hopes  that the General  Assembly will be able to adopt   this convention as quickly as possible so that the  international community may  take  effective action  to combat one of  the oldest scourges of humanity.
(Original     English)
[5 October   1984]
The New Zealand Government has given careful consideration to the  text of  the draft convention and supports   its adoption by  the General Assembly  in its present form.    This statement,  however,  does not prejudice New Zealand's right to comment further  on the text if  it deems  it appropriate to do so.
(Original     Spanish)
19 October  1984)
1.      The corner-stone of   the prison system of  the  Republic of  Panama may be  found in article  28 of  the national Constitution,  which  reads as  follows:
"Article  28.    The prison system is based on principles of security, rehabilitation and social  protection.    The use of measures  injurious to the physical,  mental or  moral   integrity of prisoners  Is  prohibited.
English Page 10
"Provision shall  be meds for  the training of  prisoners  in  trades which will enable them to re-enter  society as useful numbers.
"Prisoners who are minor shall  be subject to a special system of custody,  protection and education.4
2.    The prohibition of measures which are  injurious to the physical,   mental  or moral integrity of prisoners,  added to the  fact  that  the Republic of  Panama,   by Act No.  15 of 28 October 1977,  ratified the American Convention on Human Rights of the Organization of American States,  known as  the Pact of San demonstrates the  interest which  the Government of  the Republic of Panama has   in establishing machinery which,  at the  international level,  would protect the  inviolability of  the individual and the  innate rights of  the human person.
3.    It  is undeniable  that respect for  the physical  integrity of  the  individual  is a  basic principle of  the  rule of   law and,   In that connection,   the Republic of Panama welcomes  the efforts made by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to provide  the  international community with a convention which would offer more effective protection to  individuals threatened with torture  and other cruel, inhuman or degrading  treatment or  punishment.
4.    The provisions of  the draft convention under consideration would have great legal ana political value,  and would thus help to solve  the problem of  safeguarding the  inviolability of  the  individual.    Nevertheless it should be noted  that,   in  the
case of  the   Republic of Panama,  most of the principles contained   in  the draft are already  incorporated  in  its  legislation.
5.    First,   reference  should be made  to article 160 of  the Penal Code,  which
defines the crime of  torture  in  the  following manner
"Article 160:    Any public official who subject   a  prisoner  to undue hardship or coercion shall be punished by a term of  6 to 20 months' imprisonment,    if  the  ill-treatment includes torture,  degrading punishment, harassment or arbitrary acts,   the  sentence shall be  2   to  5 years'
6.    Special  reference should be made to the fact that  the case of  a public official acting on the order of a superior   is dealt       with  in article  34 of  the Constitution,  which states  that/
"Article  34.     In case of  manifest violation of  a constitutional or   legal provision,  to the detriment of  any person,   the order  of  a superior  does not relieve  the agent who executes  it  from responsibility.    This provision shall not  apply  to members of   the  Public Forces when they  are on duty,   in which case the responsibility rests with the  superior   in  rank who gives  the order.
7.    it is  also  important to point out that the 1983 constitutional  reform made provision in the legal  system for   the right of  the prisoner   to obtain the assistance  of  legal counsel as soon as he  is deprived of   liberty.    This  legal provision eliminates the possibility of  the prisoner being  lawfully held incommunicado.
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Page 11
8.    Notwithstanding  the  foregoing,   it  is  a matter of concern  that  the description of   torture  in  the  proposed article  1  is  limited to those cases  "inflicted by or  at the  instigation of or  with  the consent or   acquiescence of  a public official or other   person acting   in an official capacity".    That suggests  that,   if  performed by an   individual,   civilian organization or   pseudo-religious sect,   the  acts described in  the  article would not  be considered as   torture.
9.    This article   is concerned only with  institutionalized violence,  without encompassing other  situations.     In our view,   the problem  is not,   in principle, confined  to public officials.    Other  situations  involving what is essentially torture should be  covered,  particularly since the intent  is  firmly  to repudiate any activities which violate  the physical and  psychological  integrity of   the  individual.
10.    with regard  to  the problem of extradition   (article  3).   the  Republic of  Panama has  signed  a number  of agreements and  treaties on  the matter,  but none of  them has clearly  specified   the right of States  to deny a  request  for extradition where  there are  sound  reasons   for  believing  that the person  in question might be  in danger of being  tortured.    The draft convention would be extremely useful   in  that  regard.
11.    The  Republic  of   Panama considers  that  there would be great benefit  in establishing   international  machinery to consider and  recommend appropriate measures in response  to the acts which have  led to  the  formulation of  this draft.
(Original     Spanish] (24   September   1984]
1.    The  Spanish delegation has  participated with  the greatest   interest   in  the work of   preparing   a  draft  convention  against   torture  and  other   cruel,    Inhuman  or degrading  treatment or  punishment.     It  is  gratified,   therefore,   that  the Commission on Human  Rights  should have decided,   by   its  resolution  1984/21,   to  transmit  the report  of   the  working Group  to  the General  Assembly  and   to  have  recommended   that the General  Assembly  consider   the  draft  convention  as  a  matter   of   priority  with  a view to its early adoption.
2.    The   implementation  of   the  draft  convention  does   not  give   rise   to  Juridical problems  in  Spain  since  torture  is classified as  an offence  in article 204  bus of the  Penal Code,   as amended by Act   31/1978  of  7 July.
3.    with  respect   to  the desirability of adopting such a convention,   the Spanish delegation  has   supported   the principle   that   the   international   protection  of   human rights   is  effective only when  declarations  contained   in   International   texts are converted   into Internationally enforceable   legal obligations and when domestic machinery  for   the  control,   the prevention  and punishment of  human rights violations is coupled with an  International  system  for  verification of  States'   compliance with these norms,   based on a specific organ.
English Page 12
4.    Inevitably,   the  text prepared, which is the result of a compromise, cannot be Cully satisfactory to all.    The Spanish Government would have preferred  the scope of   the convention to be wider and  in line with  the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel.  Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment   (General Assembly resolution 3452   (XXX)),   so that the whole
system of protection established would cover not only torture but also other inhuman or degrading treatment or  punishment.    The Spanish Government would also have preferred the  international monitoring  system established in articles  21 and 22 of  the draft to be binding on states Parties  to the convention rather   than dependent on signature of a declaration recognizing the committee's competence, since,   in the opinion of  the Spanish Government,   the committee provided  for   in  the draft should be an international organ of a quasi-judicial nature with verification,   investigation and decision-making powers.    However,   in the  interest of  compromise,   the Spanish delegation to the Commission on Human  Rights accepted the proposed text and the Spanish Government  is prepared to do everything possible to obtain a consensus on the articles on which consensus has not  yet  been reached.
5.    Nevertheless,   the Spanish Government would emphasize  the need to maintain the present wording of  articles 19 Audi 20 without brackets,   since  it  considers  that these clauses of   the convention should not be optional but should be an  integral part of it otherwise the convention would lose much of  its purpose,   if not  Its raison draft.
6.    The Spanish Government wishes to emphasize the desirability of  this draft being approved by  the General Assembly as soon as possible,  since  it considers that it   Is sufficiently mature.    For  its part the Spanish delegation will use  its best endeavours to ensure that   it  is adopted by the General Assembly at  its thirty-ninth session.
[Original    English]
(2  October   1984)
1.       The Yugoslav Government has carefully studied  the draft convention submitted by  the Commission on Human Rights   for  adoption by the General Assembly at   its thirty-ninth session  and would  like to Inform the Secretary-General  that  the draft text   is  in  large  part  acceptable  to Yugoslavia.     It considers that  the draft convention voices  in a satisfactory manner  the main problems which may arise  from the  application of  torture,  and defines measures to be taken by the international community with a view to eliminating all  forms of cruel,  inhuman or degrading treatment or   punishment,     it has,   therefore,   instructed the Yugoslav delegation to the   thirty-ninth session of  the General  Assembly to make maximum efforts  to arrive, in close co-operation and consultation with other Member States,   at  the final   text of   the convention so that   it may be adopted by the Assembly at  its current  session.
 English Page 13
2.    in  this  connection,   it wishes to  inform the Secretary-General  that the Yugoslav delegation will be prepared to take pact in a more appropriate formulation of some parts of the draft convention,  principally those related to extradition and the mandate of a committee.
3.    Regarding extradition,  which  is dealt with  in article 3 of     the draft convention,  the Yugoslav Government believes that it can be better  regulated. Namely,   paragraph 1 of  article  3 states one of  the reasons   for  refusing extradition of  the accused or convicted persons.     This  is  duly  taken  into account  in the existing practice of international extradition trestles, which formulate this reason  in  a different way by saying that extradition shall also be refused "on other substantial grounds",  referring thus,  first and foremost,  to seasons of personal  safety of persons whose extradition is being  requested,  and to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of such persons.    This practice should be maintained,  because  the manner In which this principle is formulated in Paragraph 1 of article 3 of the draft convention can create in practice the paralysis  of  the  institution of extradition as an  important form of   international legal assistance   in criminal matter.
4.    paragraph 2 of article 3 should also be reviewed, since  it only paraphrases the  provisions of  paragraph  1 and can therefore be deleted.
5.    The Yugoslav Government would like also to comment on article 20, which deals with a committee, its mandate and functioning. The Government is of the view that paragraphs  2,   3,   4 and  5 of article  20  should be  more carefully worded so as to
avoid the  Impression that the whole system of control and supervision by the committee   is based on mistrust of national law.    The right of the committee to make
a "confidential  inquiry"  in the territory of a state Party,  as provided for   in paragraph 2 of article 20,   implies  in large measure profound distrust vis-a-vis States.    Therefore, the Yugoslav Government  is convinced that this part of the draft convention could be  improved  if agreement is reached on  those solutions and methods of  work  of   the committee  which will be based on co-operation  among States. In this context,  appropriate corrections of  the provisions of paragraphs 3,   4 and 5 of article   20  should be made.