Emirates considers torture prevention treaty

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Six States recommended that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) during its human rights review at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday 28 January. The UAE is currently participating in its second review by other States in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process.  

Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, head of the UAE delegation, said that the UAE continues to review and actively consider the ratification of the torture prevention treaty.

The APT invites the UAE to take the next steps: formally accept the recommendations to ratify OPCAT later this week and then join the 67 other States parties.

More than 20 States welcomed the UAE’s accession to the UN Convention Against Torture last July. When the UAE became a party to the convention it made a statement, known as a declaration, which limited the scope of the definition of torture under the Convention. Four States urged the UAE to take back its declaration to the treaty while Ireland urged the UAE to “ensure that the comprehensive definition of torture contained within Article 1 of the Convention is enshrined in its national law”.

The APT, accordingly, encourages the UAE to withdraw its declaration to the UN Convention Against Torture and to accept the relevant UPR recommendations later this week.

What is next for the UAE?

The UAE will either respond to the UPR recommendations this week or wait until the results of the review are presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013. Many States choose to respond to the recommendations in time for the report of the UPR Working Group which is usually released two days after the review.  In the case of the UAE, the UPR Working Group report will be released on Wednesday 30 January at 18:00 and the report will be adopted on 31 January. Therefore, the UAE could accept the recommendations on torture as early as Wednesday.