Experts consider the use of torture-tainted information

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On 4 November, the APT hosted an expert meeting with the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, and other distinguished experts to consider a potential gap in the absolute prohibition on torture – how executive agencies collect, use and share information obtained by torture.

In the years since 2001, there has been a well-documented expansion in the cooperation between intelligence and security agencies. As a result of the ongoing war on terror, agencies have justified a huge amount of information sharing and use of information in circumstances where the information was likely obtained by torture. Equally, agencies have shared information with international partners in circumstances which has led to torture of persons held overseas.

Despite the clear absolute and non-derogable prohibition against torture, and the clear obligation on judicial actors to prohibit the use of torture-tainted evidence, there is still some uncertainty over whether and how the use of torture-tainted information by executive agencies is regulated in international law, and what practical limits should be applied to reduce the risks of torture by overseas agencies.

The APT meeting hosted experts from a variety of disciplines to consider legal standards and practical challenges in the use of torture-tainted information, and to consider whether further guidance would now be appropriate.

A report from the meeting will be published at the beginning of 2014.