Maldives signs torture treaty, to host UN visit


Male : The Maldives, after being named as one of the first signatories of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), will host a visit by the international Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture later this year.

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The Maldives was chosen by lot from among 34 OPCAT signatories to receive the subcommittee, which has a mandate to work with governments, law enforcement agencies, penal institutions, human rights commissions and civil society to strengthen national torture prevention safeguards, practices and mechanisms.

This visit would represent a landmark in the construction of the United Nations' torture prevention architecture, which has been over two decades in the making. It will also be the first time that a UN human rights treaty body visits State Parties in a preventive capacity – reflecting OPCAT's purpose – to focus on prevention rather than to investigate allegations of torture.

Following the visits, the Subcommittee will make recommendations to the Maldivian authorities on establishing effective measures to prevent torture, and to improve the conditions of detention of all persons deprived of their liberty.

The UN subcommittee has already held provisional consultations with the Maldivian authorities late June, regarding the modalities for the visit, and the government has committed itself to engage with the body in an open and constructive manner to improve torture prevention practices in its places of detention.

Speaking of the upcoming visit, chief government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef said, "The government's goal is to attain the very highest standards of torture prevention, and we welcome international and national scrutiny of our progress towards that goal. We therefore look forward to receiving the Subcommittee later this year".

In response, Subcommittee chair Silvia Casale, congratulated the Maldives for its early ratification of the OPCAT and for its continued commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.

The OPCAT was adopted by the United Nations on December 18, 2002 and entered into force on June 22, 2006. The Maldives was one of the 20 original members of OPCAT, having signed the instrument on September 14, 2005 and formally acceded on February 15, 2006. The Maldives was also the first country in Asia to ratify OPCAT.