Prohibition against Torture in International Law: United Nations Treaty Body

Aldo Shkembi, Andi Dura


Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 reads “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. This Article is widely regarded as expressing customary international law. Within the United Nations framework, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are explicitly prohibited under a number of international treaties, which are legally binding on those States which have ratified them. Many treaties establish Committees, known collectively as the treaty bodies, which are mandated to monitor States Parties’ compliance with their obligations under the treaties. They do this by issuing General Comments or Recommendations, which provide detailed interpretation of specific aspects of the treaty. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the definition and the elements required for an act to be classified as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, applied within the United Nations system, by considering the General Comments and jurisprudence of the treaty bodies, in particular the Human Rights Committee (HRC), which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Committee against Torture (CAT), which monitors compliance with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). The paper focuses on States Parties’ obligations under the main treaties, by considering the scope of application of these obligations.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n8p61

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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