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NZ welcomes new UN treaty against torture

10 November 2002 Media Statement

NZ welcomes new United Nations treaty against torture

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the United Nation’s adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture is a real achievement in the international campaign to prevent torture.

“Amnesty International has hailed New Zealand’s role in the ten year campaign to get a new treaty designed to prevent torture. Two years ago, I launched Amnesty International’s third global campaign against torture.

“All New Zealanders will agree that torture and cruel treatment is a despicable practice, whether it occurs in prisons, or other places of detention, in times of armed conflict, or against political dissidents, criminal suspects, or ethnic, religious or other minorities.

“This Optional Protocol, which establishes an international inspection system for places of detention, will help to stamp out such abuses of human rights.

“New Zealand has actively supported the development of this Optional Protocol, reflecting our abhorrence of torture and commitment to the protection of human rights. New Zealand has been a member of a key group involved in international lobbying efforts in favour of this Optional Protocol,” Helen Clark said.


Negotiations on the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment have been underway since 1991.

The Optional Protocol will establish an international inspection mechanism, a sub-Committee of the Committee Against Torture, which will visit places of detention and make recommendations to states regarding the protection of persons deprived of their liberty.

The Optional Protocol will also oblige states to establish, designate, or maintain a national mechanism that would undertake regular inspections of places of detention. It is envisaged that the sub-Committee would advise and assist this national mechanism.

The Optional Protocol was adopted today by a vote of 104 in favour and 8 votes against. Those opposed to the Optional Protocol included the United States, China, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Syria and Viet Nam. Australia abstained from the vote.

The Optional Protocol will enter into force once 20 states have ratified it. New Zealand will now begin the domestic process towards signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol.


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