China ratified* the CAT in 1988.
Since its ratification of the CAT, China has had four reviews by the Committee and is currently in its fifth review cycle. The below chart provides an overview of the key stages of the review cycle, including the dates and important documents related to each step. Steps that are undertaken by the Committee appear in blue, while steps undertaken by China appear in grey. The stage that China is currently undergoing is indicated by a dark border.
What opportunities are there for civil society to participate in China’s review process?
Civil society groups can submit reports to the Committee prior to its preparation of the list of issues, suggesting questions to include and also, prior to the constructive dialogue, can provide additional information on China’s implementation of the Convention since its last review. Civil society groups that are able to travel to Geneva may also provide oral briefings to Committee members in the days leading up to the constructive dialogue. These briefings may be either formal (e.g., take place during the Committee’s formal session) or informal (e.g., take place during a break in the Committee’s session).
Civil society groups may also watch the constructive dialogue either in person in Geneva or via webcast from anywhere in the world. Following the dialogue, civil society groups may send additional suggestions or input to help inform the Committee’s concluding observations, including suggestions for which issues should be selected for follow-up. (Note: The Committee may only include issues in its concluding observations that were raised during its dialogue with China.)
Once the Committee has issued its concluding observations, civil society groups can help raise awareness of China’s obligations under the CAT and of the Committee’s recommendations for better implementation of these obligations. These recommendations are most impactful when citizens, the private sector, governments, journalists, and academics know about and raise them in their work.
Civil society groups may also make submissions regarding the issues selected for follow-up one year following the formal review.
How can I provide information to the Committee?
Individuals and groups interested in sending the Committee information should review this page, which includes deadlines and contact information for the Committee’s secretariat. For information to be useful to the Committee it should be provided in English.
* When states become parties to international treaties, they are permitted to do so with reservations, understandings, or declarations, which clarify the states’ interpretation of certain provisions, or change the state’s rights and obligations under the treaty. To be valid, any such conditions cannot contradict the purpose of the treaty itself. Upon ratification, China stated that it does not recognize the competence of the Committee Against Torture to investigate alleged acts of torture, as provided for in article 20 of the Convention. It also declared that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of article 30 of the Convention, which states that:
Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984 and entered into force in 1987. The Convention was established “to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment throughout the world.” The legal, procedural, and remedial obligations for state parties, as set forth in the Convention, include the following:
China’s review took place on November 17 & 18. For more information, see:
Fifth Review (2015)
Fourth Review (2008)