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NZ signs torture protocol

NZ signs torture protocol, ratifies protocol against hazardous chemicals

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today signed the United Nations Optional Protocol Against Torture, making New Zealand one of the first countries to do so.

Mr Goff, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, said the protocol was aimed at preventing torture by establishing an expert inspection team to visit places of detention in countries that ratified the protocol. The monitoring regime established by the visits would report on conditions of detention and will actively deter abusive practices.

“New Zealand has actively supported the development of this protocol, which reflects our abhorrence of torture and our commitment to human rights," Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand was one of the core group of countries lobbying in support of the protocol in the lead up to its adoption last year. New Zealand’s early signature is a clear expression that we regard the use of torture as unacceptable.

“Torture, in all its forms, is one of the most profound abuses of human rights. Millions of people around the world have suffered from physical and psychological trauma from such treatment. The Convention against Torture outlaws torture under any circumstances, at all times, without exception."

Legislative changes will be implemented in order to ratify the Protocol.

Mr Goff said New Zealand had also ratified a key convention governing international trade in hazardous chemicals.

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade sets out the principle of “prior informed consent” for the international trade in hazardous chemicals. It gives importing countries the tools and information they need to identify potential hazards and block the import of chemicals they cannot manage safely.

"Our early ratification of the Rotterdam Convention underscores this government's commitment to ensuring that hazardous chemicals are managed appropriately throughout their life cycle," Mr Goff said.

“The Convention is supported worldwide by the chemical industry and by Non-Governmental Organisations concerned with the safe use of chemicals,” Mr Goff said.

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