A/HRC/43/49/Add.1 Annex Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on his visit to the Comoros I. Introduction 1. The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment conducted, at the invitation of the Government, an official visit to the Comoros, which was scheduled from 12 to 18 June 2019. On 15 June, he decided to suspend his visit because after three attempts, and an ad hoc emergency meeting with the authorities, he had been unable to access all persons deprived of their liberty in accordance with the terms of reference of his mandate. 2. The Special Rapporteur expresses his appreciation to the Government of the Comoros for extending an invitation to him, only the second visit to the country by an independent expert. However, the responsible authorities had regrettably not fully appreciated the requisite preparatory measures and resources required to ensure that a visit could be carried out in full compliance with the applicable revised terms of reference for country visits by special procedure mandate holders of the United Nations Human Rights Council,1 which had been formally submitted in advance to the Government. 2 3. Apart from a few preselected facilities, the authorities in charge of places of detention had clearly not been informed or properly instructed by the responsible ministries and therefore were not in a position to provide the Special Rapporteur with the required access and modalities. 4. It is essential for the credibility of the mandate, and the special procedures mechanism of the Human Rights Council, to be able to conduct unannounced visits to any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty, including prisons, custody cells of the police and gendarmerie, and places used to keep persons under house arrest. 5. The Comorian authorities offered to facilitate access to each place of detention, if notified in advance; however, these terms were unacceptable, not only for reasons of efficiency but, more importantly, because it impeded the credibility, objectivity and independence of the mandate. 6. The Special Rapporteur held an ad hoc meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to try to resolve the issue, but regrettably the necessary instructions were not communicated. Four days into the visit, the Special Rapporteur concluded that the integrity of the visit had been compromised to such an extent that it had to be suspended. After three unsuccessful visit attempts, his team had lost too much time trying to secure unimpeded access and it was no longer possible to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the situation in the country. Despite this significant setback, the Special Rapporteur held an exit meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to express his hope that a meaningful dialogue could be established with the Government. 7. Many interlocutors, in particular victims, reportedly took personal risks to meet with the Special Rapporteur. A genuine dialogue between the Government, civil society and the outside world is very much needed for human rights to begin to take hold in the Comoros. 8. The Special Rapporteur wishes to express his gratitude for the assistance provided by the United Nations country team before and throughout his visit, including by organizing a debrief with United Nations and diplomatic representatives in Moroni. 1 2 2 The terms of reference submitted to the Government can be found at www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/SP/ToRs2016.pdf. The letters sent to the Government were dated 14 March and 27 May 2019.