UN specialist visits Scotland to share expertise on preventing torture

United Nations specialist visits Scotland to share his expertise on preventing torture

A United Nations specialist on human rights is visiting Scotland this week to highlight ways to strengthen the prevention of torture.  

Jens Modvig, Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), will explain to a meeting of civil society organisations how Scotland could do more to improve its human rights record in relation to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The UN Committee relies on civil society and national human rights institutions to provide them with information, and Mr Modvig will explain to organisations and members of the National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) how best to engage with the Convention.

The meeting takes place in central Edinburgh on Thursday 1 November and is being organised by the Scottish Human Rights Commission. The event is being carried out as part of the Commission's work on monitoring and reporting on international human rights treaties.

The UK will be examined by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in April 2019 and the Commission will make recommendations to both the UK and Scottish Government on how they need to comply with the Convention. Mr Modvig will also meet with a Scottish Government minister to discuss this review of the UK.

Some of the conduct prohibited by the Convention includes excessive use of force or restraint techniques in education, health, social care, prisons or where children are in custody, as well as poor healthcare in hospitals and mental health units that could be degrading, and the abuse and neglect of children or older people in residential care.

Welcoming Mr Modvig's visit, Judith Robertson, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission said:

"The standards of the Convention Against Torture don't just apply to what happens in prison cells, police custody and foreign countries but also to how our domestic institutions like care homes and hospitals treat people in Scotland, particularly vulnerable groups such as children, older people, people seeking asylum and people experiencing mental illness.

"As a country, we've signed up to international laws on ill treatment and it is essential that Scotland continues to improve human rights standards in this area. We continue to work with the Scottish Government to identify gaps, raise awareness, and set out actions to achieve greater compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture."

Speaking ahead of his arrival in Scotland, Jens Modvig, Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT),  said:

"The Committee has raised a number of torture-related issues with the UK prior to the review and these issues have been addressed by the UK in its report to the Committee. During the review in April 2019, the Committee will assess how the UK and Scotland have acted regarding these issues. The UN would like to see the UK and Scotland progress to fully incorporate the Convention Against Torture in domestic laws and work for better implementation of standards in health care and prisons and a strengthening of the rights for people seeking redress."