What is the CAT Convention?
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT Convention) is an international human rights treaty, which
aims to eradicate the practice of torture in all countries across the world. It
represents the most detailed international codification of standards and
practices which aim to protect individuals from torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The CAT Convention was adopted by
the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1984 as a result of the growing
recognition of the continued existence of the global problem of torture and entered
into force in June 1987. By April 2014, 155 States were party to the CAT
What is the CAT Committee?
Against Torture was established under
Article 17 of the CAT Convention. Its role is to monitor and supervise the
implementation by States parties of their obligations under the treaty. The CAT
Committee operates on a part time basis. From 2015 onwards, the CAT Committee
will meet three times per year, for a period of three or four weeks. States are
generally obliged to submit their State report every four years.
Who are the CAT Committee
The CAT Committee is composed of ten members. Each member is
nominated by a State party and elected by secret ballot by the States parties.
Each member serves a four-year term and may be re-elected if re-nominated.
States parties should ensure that there is an equitable geographic mix of CAT
Committee members. Members shall be persons “of high moral standing and
recognised competence in the field of human rights”. A member serves in his or
her personal capacity, rather than as a representative of his or her nominating
You can find an up-to-date
list on the official website of the UN OHCHR.
What is the State
The reporting system is the only compulsory monitoring mechanism
under the CAT Convention. A State party must submit an initial report within
one year of the treaty coming into force for that State. Thereafter, as required by the CAT Convention,
the CAT Committee requests reports every four years. At the end of its
Concluding Observations, it indicates the date by which the State party
examined should submit its next periodic report.
In its initial report, a State party should outline how it
implements the rights and obligations set out in the CAT Convention. It should
give details of relevant legislation, policies, and practices. It is not
sufficient to simply outline legislation without commenting on how, or if, that
legislation is enforced. It should also highlight areas where implementation is
deficient or problematic.
A State report is a public document, and is
available on the treaty
. This website also details the dates at which future
reports are due.
What is the
List of Issues (LOIs)?
The CAT Committee will analyse the State report, upon which a list
of issues (LOI) will be drafted, generally by the member(s) of the CAT
Committee appointed as country rapporteurs or a country report task force,
which will then be adopted in plenary in the session ahead of the State party’s
report. Subsequently, the State party will reply to the LOI in writing and will
also send a delegation to Geneva to engage in an interactive constructive
dialogue with the CAT Committee at the session in which the report will be examined.
The adoption of the LOI, in the session prior to the examination of the State
party report, allows, on one hand, for the CAT Committee to ask for the
clarification of and update on certain issues and, on the other, provides time
and guidance to the State party for the preparation of its discussion with the
CAT Committee, taking into account the issues of particular interest outlined
by the CAT Committee in the LOI. During the review process, CAT Committee
members make use of information originating from other treaty bodies and
special procedures from the UN system. They also draw on other sources of
information, including information from CSOs, but also from National Human
Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and regional human rights mechanisms.
What is the List of Issues Prior to
In 2007, the CAT Committee initiated a new optional procedure, which
consists of the preparation and adoption of list of issues to be transmitted to
State parties prior to the submission of their periodic report. This List of
Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR) is a useful tool for preparing more focused
and timely reports. The LOIPRs are prepared, adopted and transmitted to the
State party concerned at least one year in advance of the due reporting date. States
that choose to adopt the procedure and receive the LOPIR do not receive a further
list of issues before the consideration of their reports.
What are the Concluding
Under Article 19 of the CAT Convention, the CAT Committee is
mandated to examine reports on the measures taken by State Parties to implement
the treaty. At the conclusion of the report examination session, the CAT
Committee adopt Concluding
Observations on the
relevant State party. These include concerns and recommendations that reflect
the CAT Committee’s position on the status of the treaty’s implementation in
the respective country. The CAT Committee expert (appointed as the follow-up
Special Rapporteur) will then engage in a dialogue with a State on how to effectively
implement the recommendations, and addressing subjects of priority concern.
Follow-up information is publicly available via the treaty bodies’ website.
The Concluding Observations also highlight areas
that should be the focus of the next report. Periodic reports do not have to
cover every treaty right in the same detail as the initial report, though
significant developments between reports must be explained. That is to say, in
periodic reports subsequent to its initial report, the State party should focus
on issues “raised by the Committee in its previous Concluding Observations, and
on significant developments since the previous report”.
How can CSOs participate at the
different stages of the Reporting Process?
- CSO participation is important for providing the CAT Committee members
with direct country-specific information from the ground. CSOs may engage by:
- Providing written information for the List of Issues (LOI) or List of
Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR). This information must be received by the
Secretariat 10 weeks before the session in which the CAT Committee will adopt
the LOI and LOIPR.
- Providing written information (alternative reports) for the examination
of the State party’s report. This information must be received by the
Secretariat 2 weeks before the examination session.
- Orally briefing the CAT Committee members prior to the country examination.
Only CSOs that have submitted written information to the CAT Committee for the
given State may participate in the CSOs briefing sessions. These one-hour sessions
take place prior to the examination of the State party’s report, in private and
with interpretation. NGOs are expected to coordinate their presentation in
order to avoid repeating information and to use their time to highlight and
provide updates on the most important issues in the submitted written
Providing information for the follow-up to the Concluding Observations.
Under the CAT Committee’s Rules and Procedures, NGOs may be invited to
submit written information relevant to the Committee’s activities. Any NGO may
also submit information on its own initiative. ECOSOC accreditation status is
not required for the submission of written information or participation in the
How can CSOs register to attend the
Participants must submit
a completed Conference Registration Form for the attention of
Ms. Adele Quist at
, with a copy to the
secretariat of the CAT at
This should be done
no later than two weeks prior to the start of the session so that arrangements
can be made for the issuance of the United Nations ground passes to enter
United Nations premises.
To receive the ground
pass, all applicants are required to bring the signed original of the
Conference Registration Form, a valid national passport or government issued
photo ID, and appear in person at the security booth of Palais Wilson (52 rue
des Pâquis, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland. Office hours are 9:00 to 18:00, Monday
through Friday). Please note that applicants must bring their passports (or
government issued photo ID) every time they wish to enter UN premises.
For more information, please refer to the CAT information page