UN torture prevention body highlights situation of LGBTI persons

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons are at higher risk of violations of their rights when deprived of their liberty. In its 2015 Annual Report, presented today to the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) highlights the specific vulnerabilities of LGBTI persons in detention and the need for States to adopt measures to prevent torture and other ill-treatment against them. 

The SPT decided to devote its 2015 Annual Report to the issue of prevention of torture and ill-treatment against LGBTI persons. The report analyses the risks faced by LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty, including serious discrimination, verbal and psychological abuse, sexual violence by fellow detainees or staff of the places of detention, and isolation or solitary confinement as protective measures. The SPT expresses particular concern for the situation of transgender persons in detention. The report also highlights the specific risks of ill-treatment to which LGBTI persons are exposed in different contexts, such as migration facilities and health care settings.

The report recommends specific measures that States should adopt to strengthen the protection of LGBTI persons deprived of liberty from torture and other ill-treatment. These include: reforms of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct; prompt and impartial investigations of allegations of torture and ill-treatment against LGBTI persons; risk assessment to identify those who are in a situation of vulnerability and determine their specific needs and protective measures which are not in detriment of the individuals; and awareness-raising activities for staff of places of detention, law enforcement personnel, judges and prosecutors on relevant international standards and principles of equality and non-discrimination.

New working methods

The 2015 report also introduces new working methods regarding both the SPT visiting and advisory mandate. It decided to abandon the formal categorisation of types of visits to be able to cover several aspects during one single visit and have more flexibility in choosing a specific focus according to each visit.

During 2015, the SPT increased its efforts to provide advice to National Preventive Mechanisms on the implementation of their mandate, by providing substantive responses to NPMs’ specific requests. All SPT responses have been compiled into one document made available on the SPT website and as annex to the Annual Report.

Ten visits in 2016

The SPT is planning to carry out ten visits in 2016 and is developing more effective and interactive ways to engage in dialogue with States that have been visited by the Subcommittee, as opposed to the current formal procedure based on written replies.

On the substantive part, the SPT is planning to develop specific reflection and guidance on the issues of transfer or relocation of persons deprived of liberty, migrants and refugees and indepdependence of National Preventive Mechanisms.