Welcome trend to publish European anti-torture Committee reports

Friday, November 8, 2013

As the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) earlier this week published its 23rd General Report it remains clear that the majority of Council of Europe countries largely subscribe to the old adage that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’.

A closer look behind the CPT report’s launch headline, which focuses on the critical importance of reporting the evidence of abuse, reveals the welcome fact that the vast majority of countries in the region continue to permit the publication of CPT visit reports.

Appendix 6 of the report illustrates this point very clearly, highlighting the number of visit reports compared with the number of undertaken visits to given countries. Nonetheless, a small handful of countries do score very poorly in this respect.

The Russian Federation, for example, has published just two out of 19 reports covering some 22 visits to the country. In contrast, the equally highly scrutinized Turkey has managed to publish 21 reports covering 23 visit reports.   

Azerbaijan has a similarly baleful track-record as the Russian Federation. Just two of the reports of the CPT’s seven visits to the country have been declassified by the government authorities in Baku.

Interestingly, in the CPT report, NATO gets a well-deserved wrap on the knuckles. The CPT states: “The report transmitted to NATO more than six years ago on the CPT’s visit to places of deprivation of liberty in Kosovo under the authority of KFOR also remains confidential. The Committee is struck by this continuing reluctance on the part of NATO to place the report in the public domain; its publication would be a welcome sign of openness” (see page 19 of the report).

Nonetheless, despite the poor form of Russia, Azerbaijan and … NATO the APT welcomes the continued commitment of Council of Europe member states to make public visit reports of the CPT and urges states to do so swiftly.