COVID-19: Prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment should be absolute
Press release issued: 14 July 2020
To mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on the 26th June, Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law and Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), joined Mr Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), to make a joint statement.
“As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to emphasise the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. As a captive population, persons deprived of their liberty are particularly vulnerable to violations of this right. Consequently, the role of torture prevention bodies – at the global, regional, and national levels – remains of primordial importance. We welcome the action taken by a number of States to reduce overcrowding and to find new means to maintain and improve contact between detained persons and the outside world.
This approach draws inspiration from the recommendations made by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) in its “Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, issued on 20 March 2020, and those by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) in its “Advice to States parties and national preventive mechanisms relating to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, issued on 7 April 2020.
We call upon on the authorities of the States which have not yet taken such measures to implement them as a matter of urgency. Any additional restrictions that may have been placed on persons deprived of their liberty to limit the spread of COVID-19 should be lifted as soon as they are no longer required.”
Sir Malcolm Evans is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol. He served as Head of the School of Law (2003-2005) and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law (2005-2009). Sir Malcolm is a renowned authority in the field of international law of the sea and international human rights protection, particularly torture and torture prevention and freedom of religion or belief. In 2009, he was elected member of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and in 2010 elected as Chairperson. He is also a member of the UK Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Group.
The Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) is a leading institution for the implementation of human rights, that works in collaboration with a number of organisations and bodies, including those in the United Nations, the African Union, the Council of Europe, as well as with governments and organisations at the national level.
The Law School Coronavirus Research Hub brings together the work of academics at the forefront of global efforts to mitigate against the impact of COVID-19 through law and policy adaptation, and to understand the immediate and longer-lasting impacts of the pandemic.