Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment obliges the states parties to prevent and punish acts of torture. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1984. Switzerland acceded to the Convention on 2 February 1986.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) obliges the states parties to take all necessary measures to prevent and punish torture and cruel treatment. Persons in detention are to be protected against attacks on their physical and mental integrity. 

The Convention:

  • prohibits torture in all circumstances

  • prohibits the extradition of persons to a state where there are substantial grounds for believing that she or he would be in danger of being subjected to torture (principle of non-refoulement);

  • provides a detailed definition of torture

  • regulates the punishment and extradition of torturers

  • regulates the prevention and clarification of cases of torture

The CAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and came into force on 26 June 1987. Switzerland acceded to the Convention on 2 February 1986, where it came into force on 26 June 1987.

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Review mechanism

The states parties to the Convention must report regularly to the responsible monitoring body, the Committee against Torture, on the measures that have been taken in line with their commitments under the Convention. 

The first implementation report is due one year after the Convention comes into force in the state party concerned; subsequent reporting is due every four years. The Committee has delivered concluding remarks and recommendations since 1994.

In May 2014 Switzerland drew up its seventh implementation report as part of the UN's simplified reporting procedure i.e. on the basis of a list of questions issued by the Committee. The Committee reviewed the report during its 55th session on 3-4 August 2015 and delivered its concluding remarks and recommendations to Switzerland on 13 August that year.

The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) is responsible for Switzerland's country reports on the implementation of its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture.

Information on the CAT and Switzerland's country reports (de, fr, it) 

UN Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Other review mechanisms

In addition to the country reporting procedure, the Committee against Torture is empowered to carry out an inquiry if there are reasons to suspect that torture is being systematically practised (Art. 20 CAT). The Convention also provides for a voluntary interstate complaints procedure (Art. 21 CAT) and a voluntary individual complaints procedure (Art. 22 CAT).

Switzerland has recognised the Committee's authority to deal with interstate and individual complaints.

Optional protocol

On 18 December 2002 the UN General Assembly adopted an optional protocol to the Convention that provides for a preventive procedure whereby national and international bodies visit and review places of detention on a regular basis as a preventive measure. The protocol came into force on 22 June 2006.

Switzerland ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture on 24 September 2009, where it came into effect one month later on 24 October.

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment