UN Special Rapporteur

The current Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is Prof. Juan Méndez.  The special rapporteur is charged with examining questions relevant to torture and appointed by the UN Human Rights Council under resolution 1985/33.

The special rapporteur covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The mandate comprises three main activities:

  • Transmitting urgent appeals to States with regard to individuals reported to be at risk of torture, as well as communications on past alleged cases of torture;
  • Undertaking fact-finding country visits; and
  • Submitting annual reports on activities, the mandate and methods of work to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Unlike the complaints mechanisms of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies, the Special Rapporteur does not require the exhaustion of domestic remedies to act. When the facts in question come within the scope of more than one mandate established by the Commission, the Special Rapporteur may decide to approach other thematic mechanisms and country rapporteurs with a view to sending joint communications or seeking joint missions.

Further information on the Special Rapporteur can be found here

Relevant documentation

UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum, UN Doc. A/HRC/13/39/Add.5, 5 February 2010. The document can be viewed on the UNHCR Refworld website.

Report of the eight session of the Human Rights Council

Report of the Human Rights Council on its Eighth Session’ [Vice-President and Rapporteur: Mr. Alejandro Artucio (Uruguay)], UN Doc. A/HRC/8/52, 1 September 2008. This document is available to view on UNHCR Refworld website.

Resolution 8/8 Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

HRC Resolution 8/8, ‘Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ (adopted without a vote, 18 June 2008) decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a further period of three years. The resolution also encourages the Special Rapporteur to continue to cooperate with the Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and relevant United Nations mechanisms and bodies and, as appropriate, regional organizations and mechanisms, national human rights institutions, national preventive mechanisms and civil society, including non-governmental organizations.

The document can be viewed here.