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Nicaragua: Two UN Rights Committees Deplore Refusal To Cooperate And Lack Of Information

GENEVA (29 November 2022) – The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) have jointly decided to take action in response to Nicaragua’s refusal to cooperate with the two UN bodies in tackling and preventing torture in the country.

"This is the first time the two committees have taken a joint action when dealing with a non-cooperative State Party," said CAT Chairperson Claude Heller, adding, "we decided to make a joint statement and publish the confidential SPT visit report to reflect the gravity of the situation and the need for a coordinated response to prevent torture."

“States need to be held accountable for failing to prevent torture and ill-treatment, including by not providing information on their implementation of the SPT’s visit recommendations, as is the case for Nicaragua, following our 2014 visit,” said Suzanne Jabbour, Chairperson of the SPT. “Therefore, we believe that the decision to make our previously confidential report public will have a preventive effect. We also hope it can be useful to all actors on the ground,” she added.

Nicaragua ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2005 and is obliged to take effective measures to eradicate torture and ill-treatment. The country further ratified the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture in 2009, thus agreeing to establish an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) and to support SPT’s country visit to monitor its detention facilities.

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Disregarding its obligations under the two treaties, Nicaragua has repeatedly refused to cooperate with both the CAT and SPT and even questioned the legitimacy of the UN treaty bodies system as a whole.

In July this year, Nicaragua failed to send a delegation to participate in the public review during the CAT session. The Committee examined the country report in the absence of the State party and sent its provisional findings to Nicaragua to comment. In the lack of any feedback, the Committee adopted and published its final concluding observations last week.

The authorities have also recently turned down the SPT’s plan to visit Nicaragua in 2023 and refused to provide information regarding measures taken to implement the recommendations outlined in the SPT report following its visit to Nicaragua in 2014.

In addition, the State party did not respond to repeated requests to hold private meetings with either treaty body to discuss their respective mandates and the State party’s obligations.

The SPT has, therefore, formally requested that the CAT issue a public statement on the matter and publish the previously confidential 2014 visit report.

After giving due consideration to the subject matter, the CAT decided to proceed as requested by the SPT. The decision, according to Article 16 (4) of the Optional Protocol of the Convention, stems from Nicaragua’s failure to implement prior recommendations by the SPT, as well as its current lack of cooperation with the two UN anti-torture mechanisms.

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