From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : UNCAT, ICCPR
Mains level : UN intervention in Kashmir
United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs have made public their third communication forwarded to India expressing concern over alleged excessive use of force, ill-treatment during arrests and detentions.
Practice question for mains:
Q.There is an urgent need for reforming the criminal justice system in India in light of rising cases of custodial torture and killings. Comment.
What is the issue?
The UN urged the Indian government to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment and to prosecute suspected perpetrators under articles 6 and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and articles 7 and 12 of the Committee Against Torture (CAT).
What are the conventions cited by the UN?
1) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976.
- The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
- As of September 2019, the Covenant has 173 parties and six more signatories without ratification.
- It is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
- It is monitored by the UN Human Rights Committee (a separate body to the UN Human Rights Council).
2) United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)
- The UNCAT is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the UN and was adopted in 1984.
- It aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
- The convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
- Since the convention’s entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary international law.
3) The Committee against Torture (CAT)
- It is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties.
- The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.
- All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented.
- Upon ratifying the Convention, states must submit a report within one year, after which they are obliged to report every four years.
- The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations.”
- Under certain circumstances, the CAT may consider complaints or communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Convention have been violated.