Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 11/17/1998.
A/54/44,paras.72-77. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CAT
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
Twenty-first session
9-20 November 1998


CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE CONVENTION


Conclusions and recommendations of
the Committee against Torture


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Dependent Territories


72. The Committee considered the third periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Dependent Territories (CAT/C/44/Add.1) at its 354th, 355th and 360th meetings, held on 16 and 19 November 1998 (CAT/C/SR.354, 355 and 360) and has adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:


1. Introduction



73. The third periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was due on 6 January 1998 and was received on 2 April 1998. In every respect it conformed to the guidelines of the Committee pertaining to the preparation of such periodic reports. In particular the Committee found it helpful to have its recommendations from the examination of the second periodic report summarized at the outset together with a short statement concerning the action the State party had taken in that respect.



2. Positive aspects



74. (a) The enactment of the Human Rights Act, 1998;



(b) The enactment of the Immigration Commission Act, 1998;



(c) The “Peace Process” in Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement;



(d) The removal of corporal punishment as a penalty in several of the Dependent Territories.



3. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the Convention



75. The continuation of the state of emergency in Northern Ireland, noting that no exceptional circumstances can ever provide a justification for failure to comply with the Convention.



4. Subjects of concern



76. (a) The number of deaths in police custody and the apparent failure of the State party to provide an effective investigative mechanism to deal with allegations of police and prison authorities’ abuse, as required by article 12 of the Convention, and to report publicly in a timely manner;



(b) The use of prisons as places in which to house refugee claimants;



(c) The retention of detention centres in Northern Ireland, particularly Castlereagh Detention Centre;



(d) The rules of evidence in Northern Ireland that admit confessions of suspected terrorists upon a lower test than in ordinary cases and in any event permits the admission of derivative evidence even if the confession is excluded;



(e) Sections 134 (4) and (5) (b) (iii) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, appear to be in direct conflict with article 2 of the Convention;



(f) Sections 1 and 14 of the State Immunity Act, 1978, seem to be in direct conflict with the obligations undertaken by the State party pursuant to articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Convention;



(g) The continued use of plastic bullet rounds as a means of riot control;



(h) The dramatic increase in the number of inmates held in prisons in England and Wales over the last three years.



5. Recommendations



77. (a) The closure of detention centres, particularly Castlereagh, at the earliest opportunity;



(b) The reform of the State Immunity Act, 1978, to ensure that its provisions conform to the obligations contained in the Convention;



(c) The reform of sections 134 (4) and 5 (b) (iii) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1988, to bring them into conformity with the obligations contained in article 2 of the Convention;



(d) The abolition of the use of plastic bullet rounds as a means of riot control;



(e) Reconstruction of the Royal Ulster Constabulary so that it more closely represents the cultural realities of Northern Ireland. This should continue to be associated with an extensive programme of re­education for members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary directed at the objectives of the Peace Accord and the best methods of modern police practices;



(f) The Committee finally recommends that in the case of Senator Pinochet of Chile, the matter be referred to the office of the public prosecutor, with a view to examining the feasibility of and if appropriate initiating criminal proceedings in England, in the event that the decision is made not to extradite him. This would satisfy the State party’s obligations under articles 4 to 7 of the Convention and article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.


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