Human Rights: UN Committee against Torture publishes findings on Cuba, Iceland, Iraq, Kenya, Montenegro and Uruguay

Geneva, 14 May, 2022.-  The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) on Friday published findings on Cuba, Iceland, Iraq, Kenya, Montenegro and Uruguay, the six State parties it reviewed during its latest session.

The findings contain positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations. Key highlights include:

Cuba
With regard to reports of harassment, arbitrary arrests, intimidation, imprisonment, and reprisals against human rights defenders, the Committee urged Cuba to end these practices. The Committee also emphasised the importance of an independent and impartial judicial system.

Concerning the crackdowns on the social protests in July 2021, the Committee urged Cuba to promptly and thoroughly investigate arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and ill-treatment, and punish those responsible. The Committee also called for Cuba to establish a national human rights institution and an independent mechanism to conduct regular unannounced visits to all places where people are deprived of their liberty.

Iceland
The Committee was concerned that the current Icelandic law allows four weeks of solitary confinement in pre-trial detention, and an even longer period of segregation for detainees accused of an offence that carries at least ten years imprisonment. While welcoming Iceland’s willingness to examine the existing legal framework, the Committee asked the State party to bring its legislation on solitary confinement in line with international standards.

In light of Iceland’s consistently high level of domestic and sexual violence, including rape, and apparently limited prosecutions, the Committee recommended that Iceland strengthen efforts to investigate all sexual and gender-based violence, prosecute alleged perpetrators and adequately redress victims.

Iraq
The Committee was concerned about continued reports of torture or ill-treatment in detention facilities. It observed that the existing mechanisms to investigate the acts of torture and ill-treatment committed by officials do not effectively hold the perpetrators to account. The Committee urged the State party to immediately address the impunity issue and adopt measures to ensure accountability in practice.

The Committee welcomed recent legislative developments in Iraq, such as the adoption of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law in 2021 to redress the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. It called on the State party to effectively implement this new legislation by allocating sufficient funding and ensuring the active participation of women from conflict-impacted communities.

Kenya
Serious concern was raised by the Committee about reports of enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, including lethal force, during arrests and policing in demonstrations around the elections period in 2017, and also the low number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators. It urged Kenya to conduct thorough investigations into all allegations relating to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, and to impartially prosecute all responsible law enforcement officers and military personnel.

Female genital mutilation remains common in some Kenyan communities, with reports that such harmful practices are now medicalised and carried out by medical practitioners.

As a result, the Committee demanded Kenya take action to ensure that the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act is widely enforced, perpetrators, including medical practitioners, are prosecuted, and victims are adequately compensated.

Montenegro
The Committee remained concerned about reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in police custody, the low number of convictions and the leniency of sentencing for those convicted of such acts. It recommended that all complaints of torture and ill-treatment be promptly and independently investigated, and that suspected perpetrators be immediately suspended from duty for the investigation and receive penalties commensurate with the seriousness of their actions if found guilty.

Regarding conditions of detention, the Committee asked Montenegro to intensify its efforts to eliminate overcrowding and improve conditions in prisons and other places of detention, including psychiatric facilities, bringing conditions in line with international standards.

Uruguay
The Committee was concerned about the lack of a definition of torture in national legislation and, as a result, Uruguay’s incapability to collect statistics on complaints against torture, investigate these acts, and impose sanctions on the perpetrators.

The Committee also expressed concerns about poor detention conditions in prisons, an increased number of deaths in custody, the lack of proper medical assistance to detainees , and little progress in investigating complaints against police violence and grave human rights violations committed from 1968 to 1985. It called upon Uruguay to investigate all death cases in custody, develop strategies to reform its prison system, provide healthcare for prisoners and establish effective mechanisms for reporting torture and ill-treatment.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session page.

The Committee will hold its next session from 12-29 July this year to review Botswana, Nicaragua, the State of Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.

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