CAT and the UN: Overview

The Committee against Torture (CAT) is the UN body that is tasked with monitoring the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. CAT is composed of 10 independent experts who actively observe implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its States parties.

Compliance to CAT is monitored through a number of mechanisms. One of the main mechanisms is the reporting procedure which requires State parties to submit reports to the Committee on a regular basis. States initially report one year after acceding to the Convention and every four years thereafter. These reports must outline how the rights codified in the Convention against Torture are being implemented. Each report is examined by the Committee, which will then address any concerns and recommendations to the State party. This response comes in the form of ‘concluding observations’.

There are additionally three further modalities through which the Committee carries out its monitoring functions:

1. CAT may, under certain circumstances, consider individual complaints or communications from individuals who claim their Convention rights have been violated.
2. CAT may undertake inquiries.
3. CAT may consider inter-state complaints.