UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) – The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) is an international human rights treaty that requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is a reason to believe that they will be tortured. It also requires the parties to train and educate their law enforcement personnels and public officials involved in custody, interrogation and imprisonment regarding interrogation rules and practices in order to prevent all acts of torture.
Why is it important for India to ratify the UNCAT?
Democratic Imperative: Most countries of the world have signed and ratified the UNCAT. Even undemocratic countries like China have ratified it. India signed the convention in 1997, but has not ratified it yet [As of June 2019]. Many countries have urged India, in the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), to finalise its accession to the UN Convention Against Torture. India has promised and shown its agreement with the ratification of the convention.
To smoothen the extradition processes: International cooperation in criminal matters require India to adhere to international treaties. India has many pending requests for extradition of its nationals from other countries. Several of these extradition requests remain pending for long time because of non-ratification of UNCAT by India. Several countries extradite a person only on the affirmation that the person will not be subjected to any form of torture or a punishment that might not be agreeable to the extraditing country.
Domestic law against torture – The Prevention of Torture Bill 2017
The law commission has proposed ‘The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017’, that is aimed at protecting and providing for compensation and rehabilitation to any individual who has been subjected to torture, including those in police custody.
Need: A domestic law against torture is needed to address custodial violence, custodial deaths, and encounter killings. Custodial violence is rampant in India and the present legal-administrative framework is seen by many as inadequate to address this menace. Though provisions related to causing hurt with a view to extract a confession, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement already exist in the Indian Penal Code, a separate law would be an affirmation of the country to eliminate torture and upheld high standards of human rights. It would also facilitate the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture, and implementation of the Police Reforms Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 2006.