Commission welcomes UN recommendations on UK human rights record

03 June 2013

The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomes new recommendations published by a United Nations Committee to help the UK improve its human rights record.

Following the Committee Against Torture’s close scrutiny of the UK’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture, a series of recommendations have been made that include: maintaining the current level of human rights protection provided by the Human Rights Act, recognising the extra-territorial application of the Convention and tackling long standing issues such as prison overcrowding and rates of suicide in prison.

The Commission submitted two reports to the Committee, giving expert advice to help inform its analysis of the UK's compliance with the treaty. The Commission also asked the Committee to explore whether there is more that can be done, particularly in the context of health and social care, immigration processes, some custody settings and investigative procedures.

The Commission welcomes the Committee's thorough attention to the UK's compliance with the Convention and in particular the recognition that our laws are mainly compliant with the Convention. However, we note that the Committee has made recommendations based on concerns we raised and will be working with government to ensure even greater compliance in the future. In particular, we welcome the recommendations that the UK:

  • establish without further delay an inquiry on alleged acts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees held overseas
  • establish a single, independent public inquiry to investigate allegations of torture or degrading treatment in Iraq from 2003 to 2009
  • take necessary measures to ensure that vulnerable people and torture survivors are not routed into the Detained Fast Track System
  • ensure effective diversion from the criminal justice system for women who are petty non-violent offenders, increasing the use of community sentences, and implementing changes to the prison regime to further reduce deaths and incidents of self-harm
  • act upon its commitment to implement the recommendations found in the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiries’ reports, and establish a structure of fundamental standards and measures of compliance in order to prevent ill-treatment of patients receiving health care services.

Anna Henry, Director of Human Rights at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“Britain has a long and passionate commitment to human rights and it is essential that we set an example internationally as a protector of human rights by taking the treaty monitoring process seriously.

“In particular, we cannot become complacent about the matters this examination has covered, and welcome the Committee’s recommendations as an opportunity to work with government to achieve greater compliance.”  
 
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Notes to Editors

About UNCAT

  • The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) reviews the record of the UK every four years as part of measuring how well countries are performing in implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The two EHRC reports submitted to CAT are available here:

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain.  It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.  It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.