Méndez Principles: first time ever references in the UN resolutions
Growing international recognition of the Méndez Principles for Effective Interviewing reached a new milestone with references in two resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly.
The Méndez Principles were referred to in two resolutions adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly in New York during its 77th Session: the resolutions on torture and on the administration of justice. The references in these resolutions follow other developments in the growing support for the Principles expressed during the same session of the General Assembly, namely a joint statement welcoming the Principles read by Chile on behalf of 53 States and a side event co-organised by Chile and the APT, which was co-sponsored by all other CTI Core States (Denmark, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco), along with Austria, Argentina, Norway, Switzerland and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. The event also featured the participation of two UN Special Rapporteurs.
The Principles have previously been referred to by States at all three 2022 sessions of the UN Human Rights Council: the 49th session (February-April 2022), the 50th session (June-July 2022) and the 51st session (September-October 2022). Since the publication of the Principles in May 2021, more than 60 States, from all world regions, have publicly expressed their support to the Principles.
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
On 10 November 2022, the Third Committee of the UNGA approved by consensus a resolution on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In this resolution, the General Assembly refers to the Méndez Principles and encourages States to use them through the implementation of national measures, including non-coercive interviewing methods and procedural safeguards. The resolution notes that the use of the Principles will help operationalise the presumption of innocence and prevention of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during questioning, as well as improve effective policing, criminal justice investigations, prosecutions, convictions and other forms of information-gathering processes (para. 16). The preamble also recognises the importance of law enforcement officials employing non-coercive interviewing techniques and implementing associated legal safeguards to prevent torture and to effectively obtain accurate and reliable information.
During the dialogue at the Committee, Argentina commended the inclusion of the Méndez Principles in the resolution as a tool for the progressive development of international law and human rights and for strengthening the universal system for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Human rights in the administration of justice
On 15 November 2022, the Third Committee of the UNGA approved by consensus a draft resolution on Human rights in the administration of justice. In this resolution, the General Assembly calls States to take into account the Méndez Principles and emphasises the importance of States’ keeping under systematic review rules, instructions, methods and practices on interviewing, as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment under their jurisdiction’ (para. 14). Indeed, the use of effective and non-coercive interviewing, together with safeguards, as well as the exclusion of all evidence obtained by torture, will contribute to fair trials and justice for all. It will also contribute to strengthening the rule of law and realising SDG 16 on just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
Recognition of the Méndez Principles by the UN’s main policymaking and representative organ is a milestone in progressing international endorsement of the Principles. Together with our partners, the APT will continue advocating for further recognition of the Principles, in particular in the Geneva and Vienna UN fora. The APT trusts that growing endorsement of the Principles at the international level will encourage States to apply the Principles in practice. Supporting implementation of the Principles at the domestic level will be among the APT’s priorities in 2023.