Committee against Torture Concludes Virtual Seventieth Session
The Committee against Torture this afternoon closed its virtual seventieth session, which was held from 26 to 28 April 2021.
Claude Heller, Acting Committee Chairperson, said the Committee had adopted Lists of Issues Prior to Reporting on Belarus, Chile, Czechia, Norway, Qatar, Russian Federation and Senegal. At its seventy-second session, to be held in November and December 2021, the Committee would adopt Lists of Issues Prior to Reporting for the following countries: Canada, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru and Saudi Arabia.
The Committee had also analysed confidentially various cases submitted under article 20 of the Convention and retained one case for the June session.
Mr. Heller said the Committee had tried to comply with its key aims, and was suffering from a situation arising from multiple crises: the pandemic, the related travel restrictions, and a financial crisis. Despite various challenges related to online work, such as the time difference between the locations of members of the Committee and the need to ensure interpretation in the working languages, the Committee had decided to undertake an online country review of Belgium at its July 2021 session.
He said it should be stressed that the online country review with Belgium would not create a precedent for future reviews during in-situ sessions, that it was based on the principle that States should volunteer and not be imposed an online review, and finally that this decision had been taken on an exceptional basis bearing in mind the pandemic.
At the present session, Mr. Heller said the Working Group on communications had considered and adopted 14 communications. At its July 2021 session, the Committee hoped to meet for three weeks and draw up a list of priority cases, and hoped in that context to take decisions on 26 individual communications.
The Committee would like to echo the serious concerns expressed by the High Commissioner in her letter of 25 March 2021 to States on the lack of resources, Mr. Heller said. The Committee had made enormous efforts to deal with this lack of resources, and a specific response was needed from the States and the Secretariat for the Committee to progress with its work.
The seventy-first session of the Committee is scheduled to be held from 12 to 30 July, during which it will review the fourth periodic report of Belgium.