UN human rights chief hails Swiss approval of torture pact enabling greater

Under the rules governing international treaties, the Swiss ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture triggers a significant expansion of an expert committee that monitors States’ compliance with the treaty.The number of independent experts serving on the subcommittee can now rise from the 10 members at present to 25 in the future. “The Subcommittee is now in a position to broaden its range of activities which include making unannounced visits to places of detention and providing technical advice to States on the establishment of national independent preventive bodies,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.Ms. Pillay stressed that the increase in the number of experts “marks a substantial step forward in the battle to eradicate the hideous practice of torture.”The Convention Against Torture – the parent treaty to which the Optional Protocol is attached – was adopted in 1984 and has currently been ratified by 146 States.“I urge all States that have signed the Convention to now sign up to its Optional Protocol as well, and the quarter of the world’s States that have not ratified either to do so without further delay,” Ms. Pillay said. “Torture has no place in a civilized society.”In related news, the UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) reported that 24 States have signed the new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which opened for signature yesterday.OLA also noted that 17 Member States put their names to a convention modernizing the current regime governing the carriage of goods by sea. The Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea – also known as the Rotterdam Rules – opened for signature on Wednesday. 25 September 2009The top United Nations human rights official today welcomed a milestone on the road to end torture after Switzerland became the 50th State to ratify a key global treaty into law.

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