GENEVA (12 March 2014) – The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today urged Governments to strictly abstain from using information or products of acts of torture and ill-treatment collected by third parties in other countries. “It is hypocritical of States to condemn torture committed by others while accepting its products,” he underscored.
“Governments cannot condemn the evil of torture and other ill-treatment at the international level while condoning it at the national level,” Mr. Méndez said during the presentation of his latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council.
“Any use of torture-tainted information, even if the torture has been committed by agents of another State, is an act of acquiescence in torture that compromises the user State’s responsibility and leads to individual and State complicity in acts of torture,” the UN expert warned.
His ground-breaking report identifies State practices on the use of torture-tainted information collected by others, and underlines that some States have “diluted cardinal principals necessary for preventing and suppressing torture and ill-treatment,” including the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.
“This absolute and non-derogable prohibition also applies to collecting, sharing and receiving torture-tainted information between States during intelligence gathering or covert operations,” Mr. Méndez highlighted.
States should “refrain from allowing torture-tainted evidence in judicial proceedings or by creating a market for torture-tainted information outside of formal proceedings through the collecting, sharing and receiving such information by executive agencies,” the Special Rapporteur said.
He regretted that States refuse to subject the work of their intelligence and security agencies to scrutiny or international oversight, which “leads to the erroneous conclusion that executive collecting, sharing and receiving of torture-tainted information is not subject to international law.”
The UN expert also insisted that the justification behind the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment includes the objective of “removing any incentive to undertake torture anywhere in the world.”
“It is not sufficient to ensure that the judicial process is free from the taint of torture,” he said. “Torture must not be encouraged, condoned, or acquiesced in all manifestations of public power, executive and judicial.”
“There is a clear affirmative obligation to prevent torture and ill-treatment that includes actions the State takes in its own jurisdiction to prevent torture or other ill-treatment in another jurisdiction,” the Special Rapporteur added.
Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx