Important efforts by Guinea-Bissau at the UN Treaty Event
Several States have seized the opportunity to join human rights treaties at the annual UN Treaty Event in New York. Guinea-Bissau ratified the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and signed the Optional Protocol (OPCAT). In addition to these actions, Mongolia signed the OPCAT, and Angola signed both the UNCAT and the OPCAT.
The Treaty Event is convened every year by the UN Secretary General to give States the opportunity to ratify key human rights instruments while a large number of high level delegations are in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly.
The ratification of the UNCAT by Guinea-Bissau fulfils their commitment made during their Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council in 2010. It should be particularly celebrated because they also made the voluntary declaration to accept the jurisdiction of the Committee against Torture to hear complaints from persons alleging ill-treatment and torture (under UNCAT art.22).
Ratification of this important convention serves as an unambiguous commitment by States to effectively prohibit and prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment. This is no easy task, particularly for States which have struggled to overcome conflict and poverty. The UNCAT provides all States with practical ways to move towards respect for fundamental freedoms and dignity for all persons in detention, and promotes the development of good governance, democracy and security through a system of accountability and international review. Ratification also provides avenues to ensure that abuse is addressed, through criminal sanction and redress for victims.
Guinea-Bissau also took the welcome step to sign the Optional Protocol to the convention. The OPCAT is the perfect tool to allow States to fulfil obligations of the Convention in a cooperative way which respects the unique challenges faced by each State, and the APT encourages Guinea-Bissau to continue to move towards ratification.
Veronica Filippeschi, OPCAT Advisor, said:
“These important efforts by Guinea-Bissau stand as a proud example among West African States. Today, Guinea Bissau can share in the experience and commitment of other States who are working cooperatively to prevent torture.”