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Law professor appointed to chair of largest international torture-prevention body

Professor Malcolm Evans

Professor Malcolm Evans

Press release issued: 1 March 2011

A University of Bristol expert in human rights has been appointed to chair the largest international torture-prevention body in the UN human rights treaty system.

A University of Bristol expert in human rights has been appointed to chair the largest international torture-prevention body in the UN human rights treaty system.

Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law at the University, will chair the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), a treaty with a purely preventive mandate focused on an innovative, sustained and proactive approach to the prevention of torture and ill treatment.

Established in accordance with the stipulations of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Conventional Against Torture. It is charged, among other things, with conducting regular visits to the places of deprivation of liberty which are in the jurisdiction and control of the party states.

The SPT, which has been operational since February 2007, recently increased its members from ten to 25, enabling it to expand its activities ranging from unannounced visits to places of detention to the provision of technical advice in the establishment of national independent preventive mechanisms. The expansion is the result of increased ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which currently has 57 State parties.

The treaty creates a two-pillar system, at the international and national levels, designed to prevent torture and other forms of ill treatment in all places of detention. The SPT functions at the international level while, at the national level, states must put in place one or several national, independent preventive mechanisms.

Professor Evans said: “The combination of international and national preventive mechanisms, as provided for by the Optional Protocol, offers a powerful tool to address the central human rights concern of torture and ill-treatment.

“States should consider ratifying the Optional Protocol at the earliest possible opportunity as a tangible manifestation of their commitment to the values of human rights and the rule of law in general and to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment in particular.

“The SPT is conscious of the momentous changes occurring in parts of the world and of the need to best protect the human rights of all affected by them.”

Professor Evans is an expert in international human rights, specifically in the area of torture prevention, and has particular expertise on the practice of the European Committee on Prevention of Torture (CPT).