Belgium is yet to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (OPCAT), reveals Amnesty International on Thursday, on the eve of the International Day in support of torture victims. The Convention has been ratified by 157 countries, according to Amnesty. It came into force in June 2006, and dictates that regular assessment visits must be made by independent national or international authorities where people are incarcerated.
“The fact that Belgium is yet to ratify the Protocol, contrary to what it promised, is shameful for our country,” states Philippe Hensmans, director of the French-speaking section of Amnesty International in Belgium. “It means in reality that no real national mechanism is in place in Belgium to prevent torture and abuse in places of incarceration.”
Belgium is due to report on its pledges in the field of fundamental rights in front of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations next January. In this context Amnesty International is requesting not only that OPCAT be ratified, but also that a control mechanism planned by OPCAT be part of a newly created national institute of human rights, another promise which is yet to be kept.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)