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UN Expert Committee Against Torture To Begin

UN Expert Committee Against Torture To Open First 2004 Session

The United Nations expert panel charged with monitoring worldwide efforts to ensure adequate protection for all persons against torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment opened its thirty-second annual session today in Geneva.

The Committee against Torture opened the first of its two regular annual sessions today at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, and, through 21 May, is expected to review measures adopted by the Czech Republic, Monaco, Croatia, Germany, Chile, New Zealand and Bulgaria to prevent and punish acts of torture.

Representatives of the seven countries are scheduled to come before the Committee to defend their records in implementing the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Committee was expected to begin its work by swearing in newly elected member, Julio Prado Vallejo of Ecuador, and by electing a Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur for a two-year term.

The Convention was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in 1984, entered into force on 26 June 1987 and has since been ratified by 135 States. Those parties are required to outlaw torture and are explicitly prohibited from using "higher orders" or "exceptional circumstances" as excuses for acts of torture. The 10-person Committee was established in 1987 to monitor compliance with the Convention and assist States parties in implementing its provisions.

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