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25 years of the CPT: achievements and areas for improvement

Report | Doc. 14280 | 30 March 2017

Committee
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Rapporteur :
Mr Jordi XUCLÀ, Spain, ALDE
Origin
Reference to committee: Doc. 13909, Reference 4165 of 27 November 2015. 2017 - Second part-session

Summary

The Parliamentary Assembly has regularly given its support to the work of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and has congratulated it on its outstanding work. It has constantly underlined the importance of the CPT’s work and the need to preserve its effectiveness and its credibility.

In this report, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights notes that after 25 years of the highest quality work, the CPT is an indisputable success. However, further progress can still be made in order to preserve and strengthen its impact. The report contains a number of practical proposals to improve, amongst other things: the procedures, at both national and Assembly level, for selecting members of the CPT; the transparency of the CPT’s activities, including consideration of the issue of the automatic publication of the CPT’s reports and the government’s responses to those reports; and the follow-up to the CPT’s recommendations. The report also calls on the Committee of Ministers to examine as a matter of urgency any public statement issued by the CPT.

A Draft resolutionNote

1 The Parliamentary Assembly, recalling its Resolution 1248 (2001) “European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT): composition of the Committee”, Resolution 1540 (2007) on improving selection procedures for CPT members and Resolution 1808 (2011) on strengthening torture prevention mechanisms in Europe, congratulates the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) for its outstanding work which has led to significant improvements in the States Parties.
2 The Assembly notes, however, that no matter how much progress may be achieved towards the elimination of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the need to eradicate these major human rights violations will continue. While it is the duty of the States Parties to implement the recommendations of the CPT, the latter deserves the highest political support from others actors, including the Assembly itself and the Committee of Ministers.
3 Independence, impartiality and expertise as well as relevant prior experience of CPT members are crucial to the quality and authority of the CPT’s work. The Assembly welcomes the notable progress that has been made since the adoption of Resolution 1540 (2007) to improve selection procedures, both at national level and before the Assembly.
4 The Assembly welcomes another positive evolution: in accordance with Assembly Resolution 1808 (2011) calling for the automatic publication of CPT reports, a number of States Parties have now agreed in advance to the publication of CPT reports concerning them.
5 The Assembly is convinced, however, that there is still room for improving the efficiency, authority and impact of the work of the CPT.
6 The Assembly recalls that special qualities and skills are expected of CPT members. Once elected, CPT members should be available to carry out their duties effectively and to dedicate sufficient time to CPT work. This means being available to work at short notice, and working a minimum of approximately 40 days a year. Furthermore, CPT work implies participating in long and challenging visits which require good physical and mental condition. Language skills are also essential to making an effective contribution to CPT visits and meetings. The Assembly therefore:
6.1 calls on national delegations to:
6.1.1 ensure that the candidates have an excellent command of at least one of the official languages of the Council of Europe (English or French), and at least a passive knowledge of the second official language;
6.1.2 provide detailed information about the national selection procedure when submitting the three names and curricula vitae of the shortlisted candidates;
6.1.3 in order to ensure the independence and impartiality of the CPT, bear in mind that a candidate holding a decision‑making position which implies defining and/or implementing policies at national level or otherwise holding functions which may give rise to a conflict of interest, should in principle not be selected. If such a candidate is nevertheless shortlisted, he or she must undertake in a signed declaration that he or she will relinquish that position or those functions if elected;
6.2 reiterating its long-term aspiration to potentially elect the CPT members, as already stated in Resolution 1808 (2011), resolves to:
6.2.1 consider ways and means of improving its own selection procedure with a view to better assessing the language proficiency of the candidates, by refining its model CV for candidates and, if possible, by conducting long-distance interviews of the candidates;
6.2.2 reject any list put forward in which the national selection procedure does not comply with Assembly Resolution 1540 (2007) on improving selection procedures for CPT members and with the present resolution, as well as any list in which a candidate holding a position or a function giving rise to a possible conflict of interest (see paragraph [6.1.3] above), does not provide a signed declaration committing him or her to relinquish that position or those functions if elected;
7 It is important to further increase awareness of CPT activities and standards among relevant stakeholders so as to facilitate the implementation of CPT recommendations. In this context, the Assembly:
7.1 commends the developing practice amongst States of agreeing in advance to the automatic publication of CPT visit reports and related government responses, subject to the possibility of delaying publication for a certain period in specific circumstances;
7.2 strongly encourages those who have not yet done so to adopt this practice;
7.3 welcomes the CPT’s initiative to publish information on its standards on living space per prisoner in prison establishments and encourages it to continue making its standards more accessible to the wider public.
8 The Assembly could also develop its role in contributing to the follow-up of CPT recommendations, in particular by encouraging national parliaments to adopt a proactive approach towards them. National parliaments could discuss CPT reports and/or public statements on their respective countries in their competent parliamentary committees and bring the findings of the CPT, as well as the follow-up given to its recommendations, to their governments’ attention through parliamentary questions. The Assembly could also strengthen its existing dialogue with the CPT, in particular via its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, reinforce its political support by reacting appropriately to the CPT’s public statements and, more generally, pay greater attention to torture prevention in member States. In this regard, the Assembly calls on its members to consider the above in their activities.
9 The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) could consider jointly inviting the President of the CPT to an annual exchange of views during which he or she could, inter alia, present the CPT’s annual report. The chairpersons of national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the countries visited by the CPT in the previous year could be invited to participate in this exchange of views.
10 The Assembly stresses the importance of strengthening all torture prevention tools and instruments in order for the CPT to achieve its goals. It recognises that national preventive mechanisms (NPMs) foreseen by the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) are a practical expression of subsidiarity. While encouraging the CPT to further explore all possibilities for interaction with the OPCAT mechanisms – around the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity to make the best use of their respective resources – the Assembly invites Council of Europe member States to:
10.1 if they have not yet done so, ratify the OPCAT, designate an effective, independent national preventive mechanism in line with the requirements laid down in the OPCAT, and ensure that the NPM has sufficient human and financial resources;
10.2 facilitate the exchange of information and co-ordination between the CPT and the NPMs, including by inviting the NPM to be represented when the CPT delegation provides the authorities with its preliminary remarks at the end of the visit;
10.3 make arrangements to ensure that CPT visit reports and government responses are made available without delay to NPMs or any other relevant national monitoring body, on the condition that they are treated as confidential until publication by the CPT. Similar arrangements could be made in relation to any confidential substantive correspondence between the CPT and the authorities.

B Draft recommendationNote

1 The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its Resolution … (2017) “25 years of the CPT: achievements and areas for improvement” and reiterates its highest appreciation and support for the work of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
2 In its Recommendation 1968 (2011) on strengthening torture prevention mechanisms in Europe, the Assembly invited the Committee of Ministers to place on its agenda and discuss as a matter of urgency the CPT’s public statements. In its reply to the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers agreed in principle. But it has failed to place on its agenda the only such statement that the CPT had made since then. The Assembly therefore reiterates the invitation made in Recommendation 1968 (2011).
3 Furthermore, the Assembly is concerned about the fragile situation of the Secretariat of the CPT due to an inadequate number of staff members employed on a permanent basis, despite the permanent nature of the CPT’s work. It therefore invites the Committee of Ministers to ensure that the CPT is supported by an adequate Secretariat with relevant professional skills and composed of staff members employed on a permanent basis.

C Explanatory memorandum by Mr Jordi Xuclà, rapporteur

1 Introduction

1.1 Procedure

1 On 27 November 2015, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly referred the motion for a resolution on “25 years of the CPT, achievements and improvements needed” to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for report. At its meeting on 26 January 2016, the committee appointed me as rapporteur. On 13 October 2016, the committee held a hearing with the participation of Mr Lətif H. Hüseynov, former President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), and Mr Trevor Stevens, former Executive Secretary of the CPT. It subsequently held an exchange of views with the President of the CPT, Mr Mykola Gnatovskyy, on 13 December 2016.

1.2 Issues at stake

2 The prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5, “the Convention”) is a fundamental, non-derogable, right of paramount importance. Over the past 25 years, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has done outstanding work in assessing how those deprived of their liberty are treated. In Resolution 1808 (2011) on strengthening torture prevention mechanisms in Europe, the Assembly recognised the CPT as one of the greatest successes of the Council of Europe.
3 More than 25 years after the CPT started its work, it is important to take stock of its achievements and propose, if need be, possible improvements in order to ensure that member States live up to the obligations they undertook upon ratifying the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126, “the CPT Convention”) so that justice does not stop at the prison gate.

1.3 Previous work by the Assembly

4 The Assembly greatly values the work of the CPT and has on numerous occasions stressed the high importance it attaches to its work. The Assembly has consistently underlined the necessity to preserve the CPT’s effectiveness and credibility. To that end, a solid amount of work and a number of proposals for improvements have been put forward by the Assembly over the last 20 years.
5 Back in 1997, the Assembly called for the strengthening of the CPT in its Recommendation 1323 (1997) on strengthening the machinery of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. At that time, the Assembly was concerned about the need for increased human and budgetary resources for the CPT to cope with the ratification of the CPT Convention by an increasing number of States from central and eastern Europe who had recently joined or were about to join the Council of Europe. At the same time, the Assembly was already pointing out the need to improve the election procedure of the CPT members to ensure a more balanced composition with regard to professional background, gender and age. In its Order 530 (1997), the Assembly therefore decided “to pay particular attention to the criteria of professional background, gender and age, in order to ensure a more balanced composition of the committee and, in particular, a greater participation of prison specialists and forensic scientists, as well as an increased number of women among its members”.
6 In its Resolution 1248 (2001) “European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT): composition of the Committee”, the Assembly was worried about the fact that the composition of the CPT was not balanced “either from the point of view of the representation of women, or from that of the different professional backgrounds required of its members”. This resolution was a first step towards making the role of the Assembly more instrumental in the selection procedure for CPT members.
7 As a next step, the Assembly adopted Resolution 1540 (2007) on improving selection procedures for CPT members, underlining that the CPT’s authority depends on “the moral standing, professional qualifications and personal implications of all its members”. The Assembly identified ways and means of improving the selection procedure of the CPT members so as to ensure that it recommends the most suitable candidates to the Committee of Ministers, which, in turn, elects the CPT members. Most of the recommendations put forward by the Assembly in this resolution, for example giving succinct reasons for its recommendations, or inviting the heads of national delegations to the meetings of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights in charge of examining the lists of candidates, are now usual practice. Some, however, have not been enforced until now, for example interviewing candidates on a case-by-case basis.
8 The Assembly also adopted Resolution 1808 (2011) and Recommendation 1968 (2011) on strengthening torture prevention mechanisms in Europe in which it, inter alia: recommended making the procedures for selecting candidates to the CPT more transparent and better suited to the needs of the CPT; called on the States Parties to the CPT Convention concerned to appeal to their governments with regard to the public statements adopted by the CPT under Article 10 of the convention in case of insufficient co-operation or refusal to improve matters in the light of the CPT’s recommendations; and called for the amendment of the CPT Convention to permit the election of CPT members by the Parliamentary Assembly as well as the automatic publication of the CPT reports.

1.4 The evolution of the CPT in the last 25 years: achievements and improvement needed

9 In its last report on this subject,Note the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights stressed that the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5)) is of vital importance. It also commended the CPT for the quality of the work it had undertaken for over twenty years. Five years later, and more than 25 years after the CPT started its work, I believe it is time to assess what has been achieved in the meantime and where there is room for improvement.
10 The work of the CPT is of crucial importance and, no matter how much progress may be achieved on eradicating torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, its work will never be finished. As Trevor Stevens, the former Executive Secretary of the CPT, rightly put it at a hearing before the committee, “the absolute prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is – and will remain – a fragile commodity. Whatever else the CPT may have achieved, it has not succeeded in eradicating torture and other forms of deliberate ill-treatment from the European continent; and most likely, neither the Committee nor any other body will ever achieve that objective”.
11 Nevertheless, the achievements of the CPT are immense:Note
  • the incidence of torture and other forms of deliberate ill-treatment has been lowered in some countries where it was found to be a significant problem;
  • as a result of CPT’s findings, action has been taken against persons responsible for ill-treatment;
  • safeguards against ill-treatment have been introduced or reinforced following the CPT’s recommendations;
  • the selection and training of police, prisons and health-care staff have been improved;
  • the CPT’s findings are regularly and widely relied upon by the European Court of Human Rights.
12 Indeed, if proof is needed of the relevance of the CPT, one need only look at the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. To mention but one example, in its pilot judgment Neshkov and Others v. Bulgaria,Note the Court referred to the CPT almost 100 times!Note

2 Ensuring the best possible composition of the CPT

2.1 CPT members: high professional qualifications

13 The success of the CPT undoubtedly depends on the professional skills, experience and independence of its members. Given the difficult character of the task performed by CPT members, they must possess not only high professional qualifications but also other qualities such as discretion, loyalty and the capacity to cope with physically and emotionally demanding situations. The report on “Improving selection procedures for CPT members” (Doc. 11182) by our former colleague Mr Erol Aslan Cebeci considered ways of guaranteeing the CPT’s authority by ensuring that CPT members demonstrate the highest moral standing, professional expertise and personal commitment. In the latest relevant report prepared by our committee, entitled “Strengthening torture prevention mechanisms in Europe” (Doc. 12551), the rapporteur, our former colleague Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto, supplemented the previous report by providing lists of the tasks to be performed by CPT members as well as of the skills and qualities required of them. Both lists are quite lengthy and impressive, and illustrate the very demanding nature of the work. It is of utmost importance that the member States, and the potential candidates, and also our Assembly and the Committee of Ministers are aware of these requirements and I have therefore decided to repeat them in my report:
“Tasks of a CPT member:

  • carrying out on-site inspections in a challenging environment;
  • talking with different types of detainees, such as suspected and convicted criminals, psychiatric patients, foreigners detained under the aliens legislation, elderly and/or disabled persons accommodated in social care homes, etc.;
  • working with interpreters and in a team composed of persons of different nationalities and professional backgrounds;
  • working long hours per day, sometimes including part of the night, and usually for two weeks in a periodic visit with travelling on an almost daily basis;
  • contributing, at the end of each visit, to immediate feedback to the authorities and providing detailed written notes as input for the CPT’s report;
  • in addition to on-site work, a CPT member needs to study all the draft reports and to contribute to the discussions in the three plenary sessions per year. CPT members are asked also to engage in several internal working groups and the discussion of standards and working methods.

Skills and qualities required of a CPT member:

In addition to the criteria laid down in the convention, the following skills and qualities are crucial for carrying out the tasks of a CPT member as described above:

  • relevant professional knowledge;
  • motivation to carry out a challenging task;
  • negotiation skills in discussions with the authorities;
  • ability to communicate; this means excellent command of one of the Council of Europe official languages (English or French) which enables the CPT member to work with an interpreter and to draft notes and reports in this language. A good command of the second Council of Europe official language is also required for communication with other members and experts who work in this second language, and to be able to read their notes. Knowledge of a further language is of high value for the CPT;
  • ability to work in a team;
  • ability to bear the emotional strain of very demanding situations;
  • being in good health and, as far as possible, old enough to be recognised as an authority exercising significant responsibilities in the member States, but not too old to bear the bodily and mental constraints of the mission;
  • being available and ready to devote a lot of (partly unpaid) time to the CPT’s work;
  • being loyal to the CPT and discreet, so as to abide by the principle of confidentiality.”

14 To sum up, it is crucial that CPT members are not only highly qualified but are also, once elected, available to carry out their duties effectively. Candidates should therefore be able to dedicate sufficient time to prepare for and participate in CPT visits and plenary meetings, and be able to participate in the drafting of visit reports and possibly in working groups within the committee. In practical terms, this requires availability for a minimum of approximately 40 days a year. It should also be borne in mind that members of the committee may also be asked to participate in urgent visits organised at short notice.
15 As CPT work implies participating in potentially long and demanding visits in sometimes challenging environments, it is equally important that candidates have the mental and physical capacity to contribute to CPT activities in the field. A good practice would be for candidates to provide a medical fitness certificate before their candidature is submitted by the national delegation. In addition, the age of candidates should also be carefully considered. It is somehow paradoxical that there is an age limit for candidates for the position of judge at the European Court of Human Rights whereas this is not the case for CPT members, whose work is physically demanding.Note
16 Language skills have always been a key issue in the selection of candidates for CPT membership. CPT members must have an excellent command of at least one of the official languages of the Council of Europe (English or French). At the same time, knowledge of the other official language, at least passive knowledge, has proved to be highly desirable in order to facilitate interaction with other members and experts.
17 The independence and impartiality of CPT members is another essential aspect that requires due attention during national selection processes. Of course, these are not put into question by the mere fact that a particular candidate is a civil servant or otherwise employed in the public sector. However, a candidate holding a decision‑making position which implies defining and/or implementing policies at national level or otherwise holding functions which may give rise to a conflict of interest, should in principle not be selected.Note Otherwise, there must be written guarantees that the candidate concerned will be moved from that position or functions if elected.

2.2 Selection/election procedure for CPT members

18 Among the elements to be examined is the need to come back to the request made in Assembly Resolution 1808 (2011) that CPT members should be elected by the Assembly, after a suitable interview procedure.
19 The procedure of appointment of CPT members is in part laid down in Article 5 of the CPT Convention. As recalled in Assembly Resolution 1540 (2007), CPT members are elected “by the Committee of Ministers following a proposal by the Bureau of the Assembly which, in turn, delegates the examination of the shortlist of the three candidatures submitted by national delegations to the Sub-Committee on Human Rights of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights”.
20 Resolution 1540 (2007) states that the procedure of appointment of CPT members can be enhanced, in practice, without having to amend the CPT convention, by improving:
  • national selection procedures, by ensuring their transparency and strengthening mechanisms designed to lead to the nomination of the most qualified candidates;
  • the procedure within the Assembly, by improving the information on the basis of which the Sub-Committee on Human Rights bases its recommendation, and by giving it the possibility, in appropriate cases, to interview shortlisted candidates;
  • communication between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers.
21 The quality and transparency of national selection procedures vary from one country to another. There is room for improvement in many countries but there are also some very good examples. The national selection procedure in France, for instance, shows what can be achieved when serious efforts are made to meet the criteria laid down in Resolution 1540 (2007): public calls for candidates giving reasonable time for applying and wide dissemination of the information about CPT membership within different sectors of relevance to CPT activities; setting-up of a special, multidisciplinary, expert committee entrusted with reviewing applications, conducting interviews with candidates and shortlisting the best qualified female and male candidates with different professional qualifications. The same goes for the new selection process put in place in Norway for the 2017 submission of CPT candidatures: establishment of a CPT sub-committee by the Norwegian delegation to the Assembly, wide public calls for candidates alongside publication of information about the CPT, and in-depth interviews of the candidates.
22 This type of procedure should be conducted irrespective of whether or not there are among the candidates incumbent members who can be re-elected. It is understandable that other potential candidates might be reluctant to run against a good incumbent whom they may perceive as having an advantage in the appointment process. However, there are always advantages in being on a list of candidates with a view to future elections or to the possibility of being selected as an independent expert for specific CPT visits. It is also in the interest of the CPT to have access to excellent experts who can be called upon to assist it on an ad hoc basis.Note
23 A few countries, some more than others, may experience difficulties in identifying qualified candidates from amongst their own nationals. This is particularly the case for smaller countries where non-nationals constitute the majority of the population and where conditions for obtaining citizenship are strict. The CPT Convention offers the possibility for a national delegation to put forward one candidate who is not a national.Note However, Article 4.3 specifies that no two members of the committee may be nationals of the same State. In the case of a candidate possessing several nationalities, the notion of effective nationality should be used. Moreover, it can be noted that lists put forward by a national delegation could include a candidate who is not a national of any State Party. More generally, there is a wide range of profiles of candidates for CPT membership (legal professionals, prison officers, law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, health-care professionals, psychologists, social workers, civil society representatives, etc.); this should make it always possible to find a sufficient number of qualified candidates, even in small countries.

2.3 Concrete proposals

24 Changing the process of election of the members of the CPT would require an amendment of the CPT Convention, which is a lengthy and challenging process. However, there are important improvements that can be made in the short term which do not require any amendment to the CPT Convention. Priority should be given to improving the procedures for shortlisting candidates at national level and enhancing the procedure within the Assembly in light of the recommendations made in Resolution 1540 (2007) on improving selection procedures for CPT members.
25 The Assembly could make a greater contribution to the process by enhancing its own procedures and by giving more weight to its Bureau’s recommendations. I should like to make several concrete proposals to that effect.

2.3.1 Harmonising the presentation of candidates: redefining the Parliamentary Assembly’s model curriculum vitae for CPT candidates

26 The drawing up of a new standard curriculum vitae form, taking further into account the specificities of CPT membership, could be of great help in obtaining all relevant information about candidates. At present, the Assembly encourages candidates to use a harmonised model CV which is appended to the letter requesting a list of candidates that is sent by the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly to the Chairpersons of the Assembly’s national delegations upon expiration of the term of office of their respective CPT member. Providing a model CV was an improvement introduced following Assembly Order 530 (1997) on strengthening the machinery of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.Note However, the current model CV is rather minimalist and leaves a lot of leeway to candidates as to what should be included in it. I believe that while it was an improvement at the time it was introduced, the model CV is now outdated and should be revised, taking into consideration other model CVs used in the Council of Europe. The new model CV should in particular ask candidates to assess their language proficiency in accordance with the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. I have therefore elaborated a new model CV (see Appendix) to be approved by the Assembly’s Bureau in due course.

2.3.2 Long-distance interviews focusing on language skills

27 Ideally, the Assembly, that is to say the Sub-Committee on Human Rights, should carry out face-to-face interviews of the candidates, as practised by the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. However, for the time being, this does not seem to be a realistic approach.
28 Since the entry into force of Protocol No. 2 to the CPT Convention (ETS No. 152), half of the membership of the CPT is renewed every two years (Article 5.4 of the CPT Convention). Hence in 2017, for example, the Sub-Committee on Human Rights will have to consider 24 CPT lists with three candidates each. Interviewing all of them would amount to 12 full meeting days. It would prove difficult for any member of our Assembly, no matter how committed, to find – in addition to the part-sessions, the committee meetings, the fact-finding visits – the time needed to carry out those interviews. The question of the costs involved would also need to be explored.
29 However, the Assembly could already qualitatively improve its input into the selection procedure by obtaining objective facts about the language skills of the candidates. A CPT member without working knowledge of either English or French is not in a position to make an effective contribution to the work of the CPT. However, the CPT has experienced instances in which the language skills claimed in the CV do not reflect reality. It is obvious that the Sub-Committee on Human Rights is not in a position to assess language skills by simply looking at a CV. The Assembly could, however, possibly organise remote interviews with all candidates shortlisted by the national authorities and focus its attention on language skills. This could be done by two members of the sub-committee (one English speaking and one French speaking member) through the internet. The interviews would be short (no longer than 15 minutes), so that a reasonable number of interviews could be carried out in one day. This would be a cost-effective exercise with indisputable added value for the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the CPT.
30 I therefore propose that the Sub-Committee on Human Rights considers appointing each January a team of two parliamentarians (and two alternates), one English speaking and one French speaking, with the mandate of conducting long-distance interviews with candidates in order to check their languages skills.

2.3.3 Checking more precisely the national selection procedures

31 The Sub-Committee on Human Rights should play a more active role in ensuring the implementation of the requirements set out in Resolution 1540 (2007): public calls for candidatures; consultations on candidates with both State and non-governmental bodies; interviews with shortlisted candidates; active involvement of the national delegation to the Assembly.
32 Indeed, one might wonder how in certain cases the same names appear on the list submitted by national delegations at two or more successive elections. In fact, national delegations are already asked to provide information on the national selection procedure alongside the names and CVs of the candidates put forward. There is, however, room for improvement here as, in some cases, the explanations are laconic or non-existent.
33 It is important that all national delegations provide detailed information about the selection procedure. In cases where the national selection procedures do not comply with Assembly recommendations, the Sub-Committee on Human Rights should consider rejecting the lists (as has already been done in the past).

3 Need to further increase awareness in member States

34 The success of the work of the CPT is also contingent on the political support of the Council of Europe and its member States. That being so, it is also important to analyse how to increase the awareness, in each member State, of the obligation to guarantee the requirements of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. When a State Party does not co-operate or refuses to improve a situation with respect to CPT recommendations, the committee may, by a two-thirds majority, agree to make a public statement, after the State concerned has been given the opportunity to present its views. Issuing a public statement is the ultimate means of “raising the alarm” that a certain State is not complying with its obligation to co-operate with the CPT. Let me underline that the power of issuing a public statement under Article 10.2 of the CPT Convention is only used by the CPT as a very last resort: the public statement on Bulgaria in 2015 was only the seventh of its kind since the establishment of the CPT in 1989 (CPT/Inf(2015)17).
35 However, as the Assembly has already pointed out, the Committee of Ministers, as well as perhaps the Assembly itself, has not always provided the necessary follow-up to public statements issued by the CPT. The Assembly must itself be more proactive, and must also request the Committee of Ministers to react to the public statements issued by the CPT by, at the very least, placing them on its agenda and seriously addressing the problems identified by the CPT. Unfortunately there is no sign of improvement since the Assembly’s latest Recommendation 1968 (2011), which invited the Committee of Ministers to place on its agenda and discuss as a matter of urgency the CPT’s public statements. The Committee of Ministers’ reply to this recommendation stressed that “a public statement should above all be thoroughly examined by the national authorities concerned”. While the Committee of Ministers agreed with the Assembly that the exceptional nature of this measure “should merit” its being placed on its agenda, it failed to do so when the CPT made its public statement concerning Bulgaria in 2015.
36 Moreover, the Assembly should itself provide greater follow-up to the public statements issued by the CPT, in addition to the discussion held before the Sub-Committee on Human Rights in the presence of the leader of the national delegation concerned. It could also be useful if the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights took action of his or her own after a public statement has been made.
37 More generally, beyond the CPT’s public statements, the Assembly should take stock, at regular intervals, of action taken to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment in member States. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Monitoring Committee could consider jointly inviting the President of the CPT to an annual exchange of views during which he or she could, inter alia, present the CPT’s annual report. The chairpersons of national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the countries visited by the CPT in the previous year could be invited to participate in this exchange of views.

4 Publication of CPT’s reports should become more systematic and speedy

38 Regarding the visits conducted by the CPT, all the information gathered, the consultations with the State Party concerned, the visit reports and related government responses remain confidential according to the CPT Convention. The principle of confidentiality is and should remain an asset regarding the CPT’s co-operation with national authorities. However, the Committee publishes its report when requested to do so by the said State Party. If publication did not depend each time on a specific authorisation of the Party concerned, the findings and recommendations of the CPT would be brought into the public domain at a much faster rate, thus speeding up debate on issues raised in CPT reports. Consultation with all parties concerned, including members of parliament and independent specialists, could prompt remedial measures and help solve (urgent) outstanding problems. The great majority of States usually request the publication of the CPT’s reports, which has thus become the general practice. Although this is to be praised, it will nevertheless involve some delay. Best practice would be to give a general authorisation for publication of future reports. That said, a State Party should always be given the opportunity to postpone the publication of a CPT report for up to six months after the date of transmission of a report.
39 In this context, one should commend the developing practice by States whereby they authorise in advance the publication of visit reports and related government responses, subject to the possibility in a given case to delay publication for a certain period. Following the adoption of Resolution 1808 (2011),Note the Republic of Moldova made a general request for all future CPT visit reports to be published as soon as possible after transmission, except in special cases where it objects or delays publication. It is now referred to as an “automatic publication procedure”. The CPT made it clear in its 21st General ReportNote that it favours this approach instead of amending the CPT Convention: “Rather than automatic publication being imposed, the CPT would prefer that it be a policy that States voluntarily choose to adopt. In this connection, the Committee welcomes the request … made by the Moldovan Government that all future CPT reports on visits to its country be published as soon as possible after transmission to the authorities, without prior authorisation”. Seven other countries have subsequently agreed to a similar “procedure” (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Sweden and Ukraine). The Assembly should welcome the automatic publication practice and strongly encourage States Parties to make such general requests.
40 Such “automatic publication procedures” should allow the CPT to maintain confidentiality for some time on those rare occasions when it is deemed necessary. As both the Committee of Ministers and the CPT put it in the reply to Recommendation 1968 (2011), there may be exceptional situations when the rapid publication of a visit report would do more harm than good.Note
41 While the publication of CPT visit reports at the request of the States concerned is common practice, it is of concern that Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation are not following this practice. On the contrary, the Russian Federation has only requested the publication of three reports out of 23,Note and Azerbaijan of two out of 10.Note Turkey has not yet requested the publication of the three latest CPT visit reports (concerning the June 2015 visit, the April 2016 visit and the latest August/September 2016 visit).Note Considering that Turkey had up till then requested the publication of all reports (including, in 2007, older reports that had never been published), one can only hope that this is simply a delay and that the request with respect to those three reports will be made soon. It would be unfortunate – in particular given the numerous serious torture allegations following the July 2016 coup attempt – if Turkey were to join Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation in failing to request publication.

5 Promotion of the ratification of the OPCAT by all Council of Europe member States and reinforced co-operation with the NPMs

42 Strengthening all torture prevention tools and instruments is also extremely important in order for the CPT to achieve its goals. Although the number of European States which have ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is increasing, it has not yet been ratified by all Council of Europe member States.Note States must be encouraged to ratify the OPCAT, which foresees national preventive mechanisms that constitutes a practical expression of subsidiarity. Since its first visits, the CPT has highlighted the need for the establishment of such monitoring mechanisms at national level. The primary work related to the protection from abuse of persons deprived of their liberty should be carried out at the national level by independent and effective NPMs, which must be provided with the legal, human and financial resources necessary to perform on-site prevention and monitoring activities.
43 The three experts invited to a hearing before the committee agreed on the importance of NPMs as potential “game changers” in terms of the prevention of ill-treatment. In its 22nd General Report, the CPT stressed that “provided they possess the necessary knowledge and powers and are adequately resourced, monitoring mechanisms at national level – be they visiting boards, Ombudsman offices or similar entities – can intervene more frequently, and more rapidly, than any international body”.Note It is in the interest of the CPT to further explore all possibilities for interaction with the OPCAT mechanisms as “the effectiveness of efforts to assist States in Europe to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment will in future depend to a large extent on the quality of the interaction between the Committee and these mechanisms”.Note
44 The OPCAT (Part IV) sets out minimum requirements for effective NPMs which can be summarised as follows:
  • mandate to carry out preventive visits;
  • resources to carry out a full programme of visits;
  • access to all places of detention;
  • access to all relevant information;
  • right to conduct private interviews;
  • independence;
  • expertise;
  • right to make recommendations and to receive a considered response;
  • right to publish reports;
  • necessary privileges and immunities;
  • credibility.Note
45 There are three main models of national preventive mechanisms: the so-called Ombudsman/Ombudsman plus model (e.g. Armenia), the stand-alone single body model (e.g. France) and the multi-body model (e.g. the United Kingdom). The CPT has never promoted one particular model over another. However, the degree of interaction between the CPT and an NPM and the attention that the CPT needs to pay to a given country greatly depend on the NPM’s independence and effective functioning. All too often national preventive mechanisms, when they do exist, are considered to be lacking independence and/or sufficient resources.
46 States Parties should make every effort possible to facilitate the exchange of information and co-ordination between the CPT and NPMs. In its 22nd General Report, the CPT welcomed the presence of a representative of the NPM at the end-of-visit talks, when the delegation provided its preliminary remarks as well as any observations of an urgent nature. This allowed NPMs to be promptly informed of the CPT’s concerns and to take appropriate action of their own. The Assembly should invite States Parties to ensure that a representative of the NPM or any other relevant national monitoring mechanism is present during such meetings.
47 In the same vein, States Parties should be further encouraged to make arrangements for CPT visit reports and Government responses to be made available without delay to NPMs or any other relevant national monitoring body, on the condition that they are treated as confidential until their publication. Similar arrangements may be made in relation to any relevant confidential substantive correspondence between the CPT and the authorities. This would add an element of transparency to the work of the CPT – as strongly advocated by the former President of the CPT, Mr Lətif H. Hüseynov –, without breaching the principle of confidentiality. Such timely information would also help the NPMs in their own work.

6 Reinforcing synergies between Council of Europe and United Nations mechanisms

48 Since the entry into force of the OPCAT, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) and the CPT have sought to co-operate effectively, despite their own legal constraints. The organisation of their respective activities in Europe should be based on two guiding principles: complementarity and subsidiarity. As the President of the CPT put it in November 2016 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the OPCAT, “the synergy between the CPT and the SPT, the CPT and the national preventive mechanisms, should be centred around those areas where we have the biggest potential. … During the 27 years of the CPT’s existence, [the Committee] ha[s] engaged in an on-going dialogue with every single Council of Europe’s member State in all the areas falling under our mandate. Therefore, we would ideally see the SPT’s role in Europe not so much in fact-finding, but rather in streamlining the national preventive mechanisms and ensuring that they operate properly. This is certainly not a matter for the CPT to focus on as [the Committee] [is] very careful (some people say … too careful) with saying anything that would fall under the exclusive mandate of the SPT, that is to assess the NPMs’ performance”.Note It would indeed be highly desirable for the SPT to focus its attention on the functioning of national preventive mechanisms in Europe while the CPT continues to focus on its ordinary monitoring and fact-finding functions through periodic and ad hoc visits. Outside Europe, non-member States have generally been advised to first sign and ratify the OPCAT before considering accession to the Convention establishing the CPT. Both the SPT and the CPT should continue to strive to make the best use of their scarce resources.

7 Human resources

49 This brings me to my last but crucial point; the CPT also depends on the work of its professional Secretariat. Regrettably, out of the 10 administrators working in operational divisions, only three are permanent staff.Note This is clearly unsuited to the permanent nature of the CPT’s work.

8 Conclusions

50 After 25 years of performing work of the highest quality, the CPT can be deemed a success. To preserve and reinforce the CPT’s effectiveness and impact, and in view of the considerations stated above, I have made a number of practical and concrete suggestions in the draft resolution, especially as regards:
  • further improvements of the selection procedures, at both national level and the level of the Assembly;
  • measures to increase access to the CPT’s substantive work and enhance transparency of its work, including by considering the question of the automatic publication of CPT reports and related government responses;
  • a stronger involvement of the Assembly and its relevant committees by contributing to the follow-up of CPT recommendations, and by encouraging national parliaments to engage with this issue;
  • the need for Council of Europe member States to sign and ratify the OPCAT and to set up effective and independent NPMs;
  • the strengthening of all instruments relating to the prevention of torture at international, regional (e.g. European) and national level and to ensure the best possible co-ordination of their work.
51 In the draft recommendation, I further suggest calling on the Committee of Ministers to commit to discussing, as a matter of urgency, any public statement by the CPT, as well as to make sure that the CPT is sufficiently and permanently staffed.
52 This report does not call for a revolutionary approach. The call made on several occasions by the Assembly for the amendment of the CPT Convention to enable the election of its members by the Assembly is still valid and should remain the Assembly’s long-term objective. More immediate and very concrete improvements, however, seem within reach, without entering into a long and uncertain amendment process. I am convinced that our proposals could make a difference and have a positive concrete impact on torture prevention in Europe.

Appendix – Draft model curriculum vitae

I. Personal information

  • Family name(s)
  • First name(s)
  • Sex
  • Date and place of birth
  • Nationality(ies)

II. Relevant qualifications summaryNote

III. Current professional activity

  • Start date
  • Name of employer
  • Sector of activity
  • Occupation or position held
  • Main activities and responsibilities

IV. Relevant previous professional activity(ies)Note

  • Dates
  • Name of employer
  • Sector of activity
  • Occupation or position held
  • Main activities and responsibilities
    • at national/local level
    • at international level

V. Other relevant activitiesNote

  • Dates
  • Name of organisation/body
  • Sector of activity
  • Position held
  • Main activities and responsibilities
    • at national/local level
    • at international level

VI. Education/trainingNote

  • Dates
  • Title of qualification obtained
  • Principal subjects/occupational skills covered
  • Name and type of organisation

VII. PublicationsNote

VIII. Computer skills

  • Software packagesNote
  • Other IT skills and competencesNote

IX. Information about availability to serve the CPT effectivelyNote

X. Information about any potential conflict of interestNote

XI. Language skillsNote

Mother tongue

 
 

Understanding

Speaking

Writing

Language

Listening

Reading

Spoken interaction

Spoken production

Writing skills

Official languages

         

English

         

French

         

Other languages

         
           
           

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Listening skills:

A1 I can recognise familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.

A2 I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.

B1 I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programmes on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.

B2 I can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. I can understand most TV news and current affairs programmes. I can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.

C1 I can understand extended speech even when it is not clearly structured and when relationships are only implied and not signalled explicitly. I can understand television programmes and films without too much effort.

C2 I have no difficulty in understanding any kind of spoken language, whether live or broadcast, even when delivered at fast native speed, provided I have some time to get familiar with the accent.

Reading skills:

A1 I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.

A2 I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.

B1 I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency every day or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.

B2 I can read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints. I can understand contemporary literary prose.

C1 I can understand long and complex factual and literary texts, appreciating distinctions of style. I can understand specialised articles and longer technical instructions, even when they do not relate to my field.

C2 I can read with ease virtually all forms of the written language, including abstract, structurally or linguistically complex texts such as manuals, specialised articles and literary works.

Spoken interaction skills:

A1 I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I'm trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.

A2 I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can't usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.

B1 I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).

B2 I can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. I can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, accounting for and sustaining my views.

C1 I can express myself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. I can use language flexibly and effectively for social and professional purposes. I can formulate ideas and opinions with precision and relate my contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.

C2 I can take part effortlessly in any conversation or discussion and have a good familiarity with idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms. I can express myself fluently and convey finer shades of meaning precisely. If I do have a problem, I can backtrack and restructure around the difficulty so smoothly that other people are hardly aware of it.

Spoken production skills:

A1 I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.

A2 I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.

B1 I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.

B2 I can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to my field of interest. I can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

C1 I can present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects integrating sub-themes, developing particular points and rounding off with an appropriate conclusion.

C2 I can present a clear, smoothly-flowing description or argument in a style appropriate to the context and with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points.

Writing skills:

A1 I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.

A2 I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.

B1 I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.

B2 I can write clear, detailed texts on a wide range of subjects related to my interests. I can write an essay or report, passing on information or giving reasons in support of or against a particular point of view. I can write letters highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences.

C1 I can express myself in clear, well-structured text, expressing points of view at some length. I can write about complex subjects in a letter, an essay or a report, underlining what I consider to be the salient issues. I can select a style appropriate to the reader in mind.

C2 I can write clear, smoothly-flowing text in an appropriate style. I can write complex letters, reports or articles which present a case with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points. I can write summaries and reviews of professional or literary works.

INFORMATION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE USE ONLY:

Complete address (No., Street, Postal Code, Town, Country):

Telephones:

Professional:

Personal (optional):

Mobile (optional):

E-mail:

Fax (optional):

Contact details of employers referred to in sections III, IV and V:

;