UNCAT Exclusionary Rule Tool 8/2020

The effectiveness of a State’s criminal justice system depends on the trust of the people it serves. The ways
that the police and other law enforcement agencies investigate crime, interview suspects, witnesses and
victims, and collect evidence are crucial to build and maintain that trust. Where torture and ill-treatment are
used to achieve confessions or other information or evidence, that confidence can be broken. The rule of nonadmission of evidence in any proceedings obtained by torture or ill-treatment (also known as the “exclusionary
rule”, and found in Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)) puts an important break on corrupt practices, removes one of the primary
incentives for abuse, and safeguards due process rights and the fairness of court proceedings. Applying this
rule helps dismantle unreliable confession-based policing and results in better and more reliable evidence
gathering and investigations.
This tool sets out a variety of legislative, policy and practical measures and procedures adopted by States to
prohibit and prevent evidence being obtained by torture and ill-treatment and subsequently used in domestic
criminal processes. It is intended to assist officials – notably the police, prosecutors, medical practitioners, and
judges – on how to avoid and exclude such evidence obtained by torture or ill-treatment. Experience shows that
a proper process for preventing and excluding the use of evidence (including confessions) obtained as a result of
torture or ill-treatment, helps minimise the risks and incentives that lead to the use of torture and ill-treatment in
the first place.

Torture evidence: The tool will use the phrase ‘torture evidence’ as short-hand to refer to all forms of evidence
extracted through the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including
confessions, other information and other forms of evidence. The tool also gives examples, based on State
experiences, which cover the non-admission of evidence extracted through coercion, duress, intimidation,
oppression or other illegal means.

The CTI ‘UNCAT Implementation Tools’ are a series of practical tools designed to share good practices among States on the
implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(UNCAT). They offer thematic guidance and ideas for State practitioners and policymakers as they develop or revise contextspecific strategies, mechanisms and procedures to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment or punishment, and provide
remedies for victims.


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