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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Other Releases > 2006

Background Information on the U.S. Second Periodic Report on the Convention Against Torture

Hearing in Geneva, Switzerland, May 5 - May 8, 2006

The United States is sending a high-level delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, from May 5 - May 8, 2006 to present its Second Periodic Treaty report on United States implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("CAT") to the Committee Against Torture, which was established to monitor implementation of the treaty. United States Department of State Legal Advisor John B. Bellinger, III, will lead the delegation, and will be accompanied by the State Departmentís Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Labor, Barry Lowenkron and other senior officials from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and State. In following this standard, treaty-mandated practice for States Parties to the CAT with a senior-level delegation, the United States demonstrates its respect for its obligations under international law.

History of the CAT

The CAT was first signed by a host of countries on December 10, 1984, and entered into force on June 26, 1987. The United States signed the CAT on April 18, 1988, and ratified it on October 21, 1994. Today, 141 States are party to the Convention, and are required to periodically submit reports on their implementation to the Committee. The United States provided its Initial Periodic Report on its implementation of the CAT in 1999, and appeared before the Committee to present that report in 2000. The United States formally submitted its Second Periodic Report to the Committee Against Torture in May, 2005, and is now orally presenting its report and responding to questions by the Committee, consistent with routine procedures for all States Party to the CAT.

Principal Requirements of States Parties to the CAT

The United States, as a State Party to the CAT, has obligated itself to take particular measures to implement its obligations under the Treaty. In particular, the CAT, in Articles 4 and 5, requires States Parties to take measures to ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law, and to exercise proper jurisdiction over offenses occurring within its territory, by its nationals, or against its nationals. The CAT, under Article 3, also prohibits States Parties from sending a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that the individual would be in danger of being subjected to torture. The CAT also requires States Parties to make efforts to prevent within its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture. Article 19 of the CAT requires States Parties to submit reports to the Committee Against Torture on measures they have taken to implement the CAT. Every year, many countries submit and present their periodic treaty reports to the Committee Against Torture in accordance with the requirements of the treaty. During this sitting of the Committee Against Torture, Guatemala, Peru, Qatar, Georgia, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Georgia, and Togo will also be orally presenting their reports.

The Substance of the Second U.S. Periodic Report to the CAT

The United States has submitted a lengthy report which provides an update since the filing of the Initial Report in 1999 on new legislation, caselaw, policies, and programs. As a courtesy to the Committee Against Torture, the United States also provided an annex on the detention of individuals under the control of U.S. Armed Forces.


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