Méndez Principles: Growing support during the Human Rights Council 49th session

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Growing recognition of the Méndez Principles for Effective Interviewing as a key instrument to prevent torture during investigations was reflected in multiple statements and references during the 49th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The Méndez Principles featured prominently in statements by States and NGOs during the session, held from 28 February to 1 April 2022, particularly during the High-level Segment and the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

In addition, a State-sponsored side event highlighted the powerful contribution the Méndez Principles can make to strengthen human rights and uphold the rule of law across UN member States.

 

Human Rights Council sessions

During the High-level Segment, the Luxembourg Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Immigration and Asylum, expressed support for practice-oriented initiatives such as the Méndez Principles to support existing normative frameworks. 

During the interactive dialogue with Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, numerous oral statements by States referred to the Méndez Principles and their added value in preventing torture. Such statements were delivered by: Argentina, Chile on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Chile; Ecuador and Libya. 

In addition, the APT delivered a joint oral statement highlighting the Méndez Principles as a successful example of the direct contribution of thematic reports to promote standard-setting and the progressive advancement of human rights protection and torture prevention. The statement was delivered on behalf of five other international organisations  Dignity – Danish Institute Against Torture, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Penal Reform International (PRI) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). 

 

Side event on the Méndez Principles: From Coercive Interrogations to Effective Interviewing

On 9 March, 15 UN Member States from all global regions co-sponsored an online side event dedicated to the Méndez Principles, attended by more than 100 people. Sponsoring States included (by alphabetical order) Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, Thailand, Uruguay and CTI Core States of Chile, Denmark, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco.

The event featured statements by high-level diplomats and interventions by prominent experts in the field of human rights, rule of law and law enforcement. It stressed the importance of the Méndez Principles in preventing torture and coercion, as well as strengthening criminal justice systems. 

Importantly, it was opened by the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E Ambassador Federico Villegas from Argentina; and included keynote interventions from Ambassadors from Switzerland, Costa Rica and Ghana as CTI Core State. 

The Méndez Principles are a progressive development of human rights and are necessary in the fight of torture. You have my commitment to put the Principles on the Human Rights Council agenda.

H.E. Ambassador Federico Villegas,
President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN in Geneva

The side event also provided an opportunity to hear directly from experts and practitioners, including Juan Méndez, former UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Solomon Arase, former Inspector General, Nigeria Police Forces; and Luciano Mariz Maia, Associate Prosecutor General, Office of the Prosecutor General of Brazil.

Effective and human rights-compliant interviewing methods that reject coercive methodologies are necessary and are achievable as they have been introduced in several countries around the world.

Juan E. Méndez, former UN Special Rapporteur on torture and member of the International Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice in Law Enforcement

The APT is very encouraged by the strong support expressed for the Méndez Principles. Together with our partners, we will continue our advocacy for endorsement of the Principles by the United Nations in the coming months. 

Staff members