Strengthening application of right to liberty and security

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In March 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee’s (CCPR) concluded its first reading of the draft General Comment on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), on the right to liberty and security. The APT has joined forces with several other leading NGOs to provide further comments and recommendations.

The General Comment is an important and expected step forward in articulating and developing the Committee’s jurisprudence on Article 9, providing an authoritative guidance to State Parties on how the rights of the ICCPR should be applied. Nigel Rodley, Chairperson of the Committee, has stressed the importance of the right to liberty and said that this could become one of the most important General Comments ever adopted by the Committee.

The joint NGO submission stresses the important nexus between the obligations of States parties to bring detainees before a judicial authority and to challenge the legality of their detention (ICCPR Article 9) and the prohibition of torture (Article 7). We urge the Committee to give greater importance to these central safeguards, considering their very close relationship with upholding the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. 

In addition, we recommend the explicit inclusion of two additional safeguards - the right to promptly contact a relative or third party to inform them about the arrest, and the right of access to consular assistance for foreign nationals who are detained. Both these steps are understood as fundamental preventive measures to reduce the risk of ill-treatment in detention.

The joint submission also highlights the importance of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). We recommend that States ratify the OPCAT as a priority, and establish independent and effective national preventive mechanisms and ensure sufficiently resourced independent bodies to monitor all places of detention. 

Committee Members expect to have a final text of the General Comment by October 2014.