How can we strengthen the obligation to protect from reprisals under Article 13 of the Convention against Torture?

by Rachel Towers

10 May 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
19 (pp. 37-56)

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Abstract: Protection from reprisals plays a fundamental role in enabling victims of human rights violations to seek accountability and redress. Despite its relevance to the fight against torture and impunity, this protection is ineffective or lacking in many states where torture is practiced. This article considers the state’s obligation to protect under Article 13 of the UN Convention against Torture and how this has been interpreted by the Committee against Torture. It discusses whether there is a need to elaborate on what the obligation to protect from reprisals entails. The article then compares the interpretative guidance from other UN treaty bodies and experts on similar protection obligations under their respective treaties. In doing so it provides examples that could guide the Committee against Torture in elaborating on its interpretation of Article 13 UNCAT to strengthen the protection for victims and witnesses of torture.

Keywords: Protection from reprisals, UN Convention against Torture, Committee against Torture, Article 13 UNCAT, victims and witnesses of torture.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 3 (Human Rights Protection and Torture).

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