COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: dependent
Committee considered the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland on its dependent territories (CAT/C/9/Add.10)
at its 132nd and 133rd meetings, on 18 November 1992 (see CAT/C/SR.132,
133 and 133/Add.2).
report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who
pointed out that, in addition to the nine dependent territories covered
by the report (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland
Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena
and Turks and Caicos Islands), the Convention would be extended by
the end of the year to the other remaining dependent territories,
namely, Bermuda, the Channel Islands, Hong Kong and the Isle of Man.
The representative then outlined the history and the main socio-economic
conditions of the nine dependent territories under consideration and
pointed out that they were all inhabited by democratic communities
which had a very large measure of local autonomy and very similar
legal systems based on the English system.
263. He stated
that all the dependent territories except the British Virgin Islands,
the Cayman Islands, Pitcairn and Saint Helena had human rights provisions
in their Constitutions, in each case modelled on and derived from
the European Convention on Human Rights; and each contained a provision
explicitly prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment. In all cases, the constitutional provisions also included
an enforcement provision giving anyone who claimed to have been subjected
to or threatened with torture or inhuman treatment the right to have
access to the Supreme Court and giving the Supreme Court the power
to grant whatever redress the circumstances of the case required.
264. In addition,
the dependent territories had legislative and administrative measures
which laid down in great detail the procedure that the police must
follow in dealing with detained persons, in particular with regard
to their treatment, interrogation, the admissibility in evidence of
confessions etc. In the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Saint Helena
those measures corresponded almost exactly to the United Kingdom Police
and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 and the various codes of practice
promulgated under it. In the other territories, those measures had
been elaborated by the Judges' Rules, a set of administrative rules
drawn up originally in 1913 and revised from time to time by the judges
and brought up to date, as necessary.
representative also pointed out that the discretion to refuse to extradite,
accorded to the Home Secretary in the United Kingdom and to the governors
in the dependent territories, would be used in the sense of non-extradition
in cases where there were substantial grounds for believing there
to be a danger of torture. On the other hand, adequate powers were
available in all circumstances for the extradition of alleged torturers
in accordance with the provisions of articles 7 and 8 of the Convention.
of the Committee expressed general satisfaction at the way in which
the Convention was being implemented in the United Kingdom dependent
territories and focused their attention on certain points which needed
reference to article 2 of the Convention, information was requested
on procedures concerning custody and preventive detention and, in
particular, their legal duration, especially in Gibraltar where there
was a heavy inflow of immigrants and economic refugees. It was also
asked whether the dependent territories had any military forces and,
if so, whether the rules relating to power of arrest, interrogation
and bringing before a court that applied to the civilian police forces
also applied to military forces. In addition, it was asked how soon
after being taken into custody a person was brought before the judge,
whether legal aid was available, whether a person could be held incommunicado
and whether persons on remand were segregated from convicted prisoners.
reference to article 3 of the Convention, it was asked how the extradition
laws of the United Kingdom came into play in connection with expulsion
or return (refoulement).
269. In connection
with article 7 of the Convention, some clarifications were requested
about the text of provisions relevant to its implementation which
were contained in section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It
was also observed that some of the dependent territories were relatively
close to places where torture was known to be practised and that it
was likely that torturers fled there. In that connection, it was asked
whether information was available concerning the arrest and arraignment
of such individuals or their extradition to non-Commonwealth countries.
reference to articles 8 and 9 of the Convention, members of the Committee
wished to have further assurance that the rules governing their implementation
in the dependent territories were applied to all States parties to
the Convention, whether or not they had signed an extradition treaty
or a treaty on mutual judicial assistance with the United Kingdom.
Additional information on the scope of mutual judicial assistance
was also requested and it was recalled that such assistance should,
according to the Convention, extend beyond the process of extradition.
regard to article 10 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished
to know how education and information on the question of torture were
imparted to police officers and prison staff in the dependent territories.
It was stressed that postgraduate training for doctors and other health
professionals, with emphasis on diagnosis and rehabilitation, and
training for border police in the identification of victims of torture,
were particularly important.
272. In connection
with articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, it was asked whether there
had been any recent cases of torture in any of the dependent territories,
and whether bodies analogous to Gibraltar's Police Complaints Board
existed in any of the other dependent territories.
to article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to
know whether there were criminal injuries compensation schemes in
the dependent territories and whether the principle of vicarious liability
of the State applied with regard to compensation.
274. In connection
with article 15 of the Convention, it was noted that, according to
the part of the report on the Cayman Islands, answers to questions
by the police "may be inadmissible in evidence" if the Judges'
Rules were disobeyed. It was observed that those Rules provided that
answers to questions must be obtained voluntarily and not under duress
and therefore a more categorical statement of inadmissibility seemed
to be necessary.
regard to article 16 of the Convention, it was asked whether corporal
punishment was resorted to under any circumstances, either as part
of a sentence or as a disciplinary measure.
276. In his
reply, the representative of the State party, referring to article
2 of the Convention, indicated that in the United Kingdom dependent
territories a person could be arrested and detained only if he was
legitimately suspected of having committed a criminal offence or for
purposes of extradition. Detention incommunicado was authorized only
in very special circumstances and for a very limited time. The time
that elapsed between a person's arrest and his being brought before
a court varied, but in practice the maximum time was in general 48
hours. In certain territories prison regulations required the separation
of pre-trial detainees from those who had been sentenced, whereas
in others, the smaller ones, separation was not possible because of
size limitations. Equally, the Constitutions of certain territories
provided that anyone who was charged with an offence could have himself
represented by a lawyer at State expense, but even in the absence
of a provision of that kind, the defence of the accused was paid for
by the State in the event of a serious offence. As for the power granted
to the military, he explained that most of the territories did not
have any armed forces. Where armed forces were maintained they had
no police powers or power of arrest save in very exceptional circumstances.
In such cases all the rules concerning arrest and questioning were
applicable to the military.
reference to articles 8 and 9 of the Convention, the representative
stated that a person could be extradited if the offence for which
he was sought was an act of torture prohibited by law, in accordance
with United Kingdom legislation. In addition, most of the territories
intended to adopt legislation based on criminal legislation in force
in the United Kingdom which established extensive machinery for international
cooperation in criminal cases.
regard to article 10 of the Convention, the representative stated
that medical personnel and police officials in the dependent territories
were trained in prohibition against torture in accordance with international
standards on the subject. The texts of the rules applicable in human
rights matters were disseminated and available in all medical centres
and police stations.
279. In respect
of article 12 of the Convention, the representative stated that no
case of torture had been reported in the dependent territories since
well before the entry into force of the Convention.
to article 14 of the Convention, the representative explained that
virtually all territories had legislation equivalent to the Crown
Proceedings Act of 1946, under which an action could be brought against
a Government that was supposed to be responsible for the acts of its
agents. In addition, provisions of the Penal Code or Code of Criminal
Procedure made it possible to order an individual to pay compensation
to his victim. Criminal courts could, therefore, sentence the guilty
party to imprisonment and also order him to compensate the victim.
A civil court in which the victim had brought an action to obtain
redress for any wrong suffered would take into account the fact that
part of that wrong had already been compensated under the criminal
281. In connection
with article 15 of the Convention, the representative clarified that,
if it was alleged that confessions had been obtained or could have
been obtained under duress, the court was required to declare them
inadmissible unless the prosecution was able to prove that that had
not been the case. The court has no discretion to admit an involuntary
confession. The court does, however, have discretion in cases where
confessions have been obtained voluntarily but not in conformity with
to article 16 of the Convention, the representative stated that corporal
punishment existed in certain territories. It was imposed as a disciplinary
measure for detainees and was also practised in the schools. The Government
of the United Kingdom deplored the maintenance of corporal punishment
and had urged the territories to abolish it. Some had done so whereas
others had not. It was difficult for the United Kingdom to bring pressure
to bear in that matter, since it was within the competence of the
Conclusions and recommendations
comprehensive report on the dependent territories of the United Kingdom
was received with pleasure by the Committee, particularly as no cases
of torture were noted to have occurred in the territories during the
period reviewed. The territories appeared to be governed in accordance
with the obligations in the Convention and the Committee congratulated
the Government of the United Kingdom in this respect. The Committee
was, however, interested in receiving more detail pertaining to cases
of corporal punishment in the territories retaining it. The nature
and incidence of such punishment, together with details of the crime
and the characteristics of the offender, should be forwarded to the
Committee when the information is gathered. The Committee also looked
forward to receiving the other information that the representative
of the United Kingdom agreed to forward to it.