A/61/259

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Summary
In the present report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution
60/148 and Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/39, the Special
Rapporteur addresses issues of special concern to him, in particular overall trends
and developments with respect to questions falling within his mandate.
In continuing to maintain a focus on the absolute prohibition of torture in the
context of counter-terrorism measures, the Special Rapporteur draws attention to the
principle of the non-admissibility of evidence extracted by torture in article 15 of the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment. Recent key court decisions are reviewed by the Special Rapporteur to
illustrate the increasing trend towards the use of “secret evidence” put forward by
prosecuting and other authorities in judicial proceedings, with a heavy burden of
proof placed on an individual to establish that such evidence was obtained under
torture. In doing so, such practices potentially undermine the absolute prohibition
laid down in article 15. The Special Rapporteur recalls that in the light of wellfounded allegations of torture under article 15 of the Convention the burden of proof
shifts to the State to establish that evidence invoked against an individual has not
been obtained under torture. In the section that follows, the Special Rapporteur
discusses the significance of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the
Convention. The rationale for independent preventive visits to places of detention is
discussed, and practical experience relevant to the effective implementation of the
Optional Protocol is given. As the most effective mechanism established to prevent
the practice of torture, the Special Rapporteur calls on States to ratify the Optional
Protocol and establish independent and effective national visiting mechanisms.

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