Opening Remark by Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative at the 1st Forum of the National Preventive Mechanism "Prevention of Torture: Kazakhstan and International Practice"

May 16, 2017

Astana, Kazakhstan

 

Excellences,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am very pleased to attend this important event – the first Forum of the National Preventive Mechanism – on behalf of the UN country team in Kazakhstan.  Many of us met two weeks ago at the presentation of the Annual Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights - I am happy to see you again today.

Let me be explicit. The topic of today's event is very important for the United Nations, for all countries, but first of course, for ordinary people. And even more so for the victims of torture, and their families. There is no reason to be restful before this evil is eradicated from this planet.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN country team fully supports Kazakhstan’s initiatives to promote human rights, including in particular the efforts made to prevent torture.  Human rights constitute the foundation for peace, security and development, and is an overarching objective for the 2030 Global Agenda as embodied by the Sustainable Development Goals.

The prohibition against torture is a key principle of international law. Torture is banned always, in all places, including in times of war. Nothing can justify its use.

Three-year activity of Kazakhstan’s “Ombudsman plus” model demonstrates that National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) has a solid potential for prevention of torture. Establishment of Kazakhstan’s NPM followed the country’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2008. Under the Optional Protocol, the States Parties agree to international inspections of places of detention by the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT). The States Parties are also required to establish an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to conduct inspections of all places of detention.

It is important to note that the Optional Protocol’s definition of “places of detention” was designed to be very broad to provide the widest possible protection for persons deprived of their liberty. The key elements of this definition concern the fact that an individual deprived of his/her liberty is not able to leave the place of detention at his/her own free will, and that the detention must have some link, direct or indirect, to public authorities[1] .

As you know, the duty of the UN’s Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture is to make recommendations to States Parties concerning the protection of persons deprived of their liberty from torture and other ill-treatment. The corresponding duty on States Parties is to consider these recommendations.  It is important to recall, therefore, that the Subcommittee has recommended its report to be made public after its visit to Kazakhstan last year so that all parties involved are aware of the Subcommittee’s recommendations and that they help further developing and strengthening the country’s preventive mechanism.

I would also like to emphasize that the torture prevention work of the NPMs should extend beyond conducting visits to places of detention, and include analysis of the risks and root causes of torture and other ill-treatment and seeks to bring about systemic change.

Dear participants,

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that we, at the United Nations system, stand ready to support the national effort to eradicate torture in all its manifestations. Today, Kazakhstan is implementing a new level of reforms, the country’s third stage of modernization. In this regard, we sincerely hope that further promotion of human rights will remain a key part of the national development agenda.

Thank you.

 

 

 

[1]The definition also contains two key descriptors of the nature of the connection to the State that must be established for a place of detention to fall within the scope of the OPCAT:

· the place must be under a State Party’s jurisdiction and control; and the place must contain, or may be used to contain, persons held by virtue of an order given by a public authority, or at its instigation, or with its consent or acquiescence.