Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture : Slovakia. 05/11/2001.
A/56/44,paras.99-105. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CAT
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
Twenty-sixth session
30 April–18 May 2001

Slovakia

99. The Committee considered the initial report of Slovakia (CAT/C/24/Add.6) at its 464th, 467th and 475th meetings, held on 4, 7 and 11 May 2001 (CAT/C/SR.464, 467 and 475), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.


A. Introduction

100. The Committee welcomes the submission of the initial report of Slovakia although it notes that the report, due in May 1994, was submitted with six years’ delay. The State party notes that the document includes both the initial and the second periodic reports. However, the Committee emphasizes that the consolidation of reports by States parties is contrary to their obligations under article 19 of the Convention.

101. The report does not fully conform with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of initial State party reports, as it fails to include information on practical implementation of measures giving effect to the provisions of the Convention. The Committee further notes that the State party has yet to submit a core document. However, the Committee appreciates the substantial efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Committee and to supply some of the specific information and statistics in the oral presentations and replies to the Committee’s questions.


B. Positive aspects

102. The Committee welcomes the following:

(a) The State party’s adherence to the principal international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

(b) The declarations made on 17 March 1995 recognizing the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22 and the withdrawal of the reservation on article 20 made on 7 July 1988 by the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic;

(c) The impressive efforts made by the State party aimed at major transformation in the political, economic, legislative and institutional spheres in Slovakia and the improved respect for human rights in that country;

(d) The inclusion of extensive human rights protections in the Constitution and the enactment, following Slovakia’s independence, of a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and the amendment to the Constitution of 23 February 2001, establishing the supremacy of international treaties;

(e) The establishment of new institutions and of special units within the police to promote respect for human rights and, in particular, recent steps taken towards the establishment of the institution of Ombudsman.


C. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention

103. The Committee is aware of the difficulty of overcoming the inheritance of an authoritarian system in the transition to a democratic system and the challenges emanating from the rebuilding of State structures following the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.


D. Subjects of concern

104. The Committee expresses concern about the following:

(a) The lack of specificity in the Criminal Code of the State party about the purposes of any act of torture, as defined in article 1 of the Convention;

(b) Exceptions to the guarantees of article 3 regarding the return of persons at risk of torture, in contradiction to the absolute prohibition of article 3;

(c) Allegations of instances of police participation in attacks on Roma and other members of the population, as well as allegations of inaction by police and law-enforcement officials who fail to provide adequate protection against racially motivated attacks when such groups have been threatened by “skinheads” or other extremist groups;

(d) Failure on the part of the authorities to carry out prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into allegations of such acts or to prosecute and punish those responsible;

(e) Allegations that law-enforcement officials have ill-treated detainees during detention and in police custody, particularly in lock-ups and police cells;

(f) Allegations of harassment of human rights defenders as well as threats, reportedly to deter submission of complaints, which are allegedly not adequately investigated;

(g) The lack of adequate guarantees of the rights of persons deprived of liberty to have access to counsel and a doctor of their choice, as well as prompt medical examinations.


E. Recommendations

105. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Adopt a definition of torture which covers all elements of the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention and amend domestic penal law accordingly;

(b) Continue efforts towards structural reforms and the implementation of those contained in the 23 February 2001 amendments to the Constitution;

(c) Take measures to initiate an effective, reliable and independent complaint system to undertake prompt, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment or torture by police and other public officials and, where the findings so warrant, to prosecute and punish perpetrators;

(d) Adopt measures to ensure that statements or information obtained through coercion is not admissible as evidence in courts and that legal provisions permitting the use of physical force by police officials are reviewed, revised as appropriate, and implemented in accordance with the requirements of the Convention;

(e) Protect human rights defenders from harassment and threats that undermine their capacity to monitor and provide assistance to those alleging human rights violations;

(f) Adopt measures to prevent inter-prisoner violence, including sexual violence, in places of detention and provide all relevant information on such practices in its next report;

(g) Provide the Committee in its next periodic report with statistical information on persons confined in State institutions, both civilian and military, for purposes of detention, correction, psychiatric health, specialized education, etc., with data disaggregated by, inter alia, by age, ethnicity, gender and geographical region;

(h) Take effective steps to guarantee the independence of the judiciary so as to strengthen the rule of law and democratic governance, essential for implementation of the Convention;

(i) Make adequate provisions for compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture and ill-treatment;

(j) Continue to provide human rights training for law-enforcement, military and other officials, including those operating in local communities, as well as for those at border areas and those serving at officially administered institutions, and provide clear guidelines on the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment and the prohibition on returning persons facing a probable risk of torture;

(k) Disseminate the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, and the summary records of the review of the State party’s initial report, widely in the country, and encourage non-governmental organizations to participate in this effort.


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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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