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Vanuatu first PacificNation to join universal ban on torture

11 August 2011

Vanuatu becomes first Pacific Island Nation to join the universal ban against torture

Today, 11 August 2011, Vanuatu joins the 147 countries in the world that ban torture through the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Vanuatu is the first Pacific Island Nation that has ratified the Convention, which comes into legal force today. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Regional Office for the Pacific, congratulates Vanuatu on this important step.

Matilda Bogner, Regional Representative for OHCHR’s Pacific Office, said:

“Vanuatu has demonstrated political will and leadership in committing to the ratification of the Convention against Torture. In a region where no other Pacific Island Countries have ratified the Convention, it makes Vanuatu a regional leader in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

On 12 July 2011, Vanuatu deposited an instrument of accession to the CAT with the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York. The Convention goes into legal force 30 days after accession on 11 August 2011.

Through the ratification and the implementation of CAT it is expected that legal and policy frameworks will be strengthened in Vanuatu. In other countries, the implementation of the CAT has helped to prevent torture and ill-treatment, and improve the performance and professionalism of law enforcement officers and the judiciary. It has also helped to increase the community’s confidence in the justice system.

In 2009, Vanuatu was also one of the first countries in the Pacific to be examined under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), where 7 out of 48 recommendations were related to torture prevention, and included a recommendation to ratify the CAT. Vanuatu’s President, Mr Iolu Johnson Abbil Kaniapnin, made a formal commitment in May 2010 to ratify the Convention.

Matilda Bogner, Regional Representative for OHCHR’s Pacific Office, said:

“We are pleased to see that Vanuatu has already taken steps towards implementing the Convention. Our Office looks forward to working with the Government of Vanuatu, civil society and the international community to make the ratification of the Convention against Torture a meaningful step that improves the accountability and effectiveness of the justice system.”

In 1984, the United Nations adopted the CAT, which includes the prohibition of torture as a fundamental norm of international law. The CAT clearly declares that the prohibition of torture is absolute and the ratifying country should take legislative, administrative, policy and other measures to prohibit and prevent torture and ill-treatment. As of (date), 148 countries, including Vanuatu, have ratified the CAT.

For more information on OHCHR Regional Pacific visit


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