Confidential inquiries under article 20 of the Convention against Torture
Under article 20 of the Convention, the Committee is empowered to carry out a confidential inquiry if it receives reliable information which appears to it to contain well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised in a State party.
However, no inquiry shall be undertaken with respect to a State party which, in accordance with article 28, paragraph 1, of the Convention, declared at the time of ratification or accession that it did not recognize the competence of the Committee provided for under article 20, unless that State party has subsequently withdrawn its reservation in accordance with article 28, paragraph 2. The States parties that do not recognize the competence of the Committee provided for under article 20 are: Afghanistan, China, Equatorial Guinea, Israel, Kuwait, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Emirates.
The procedure set out in article 20 of the Convention is marked by two features: its confidential character and the pursuit of cooperation with the State party concerned.
The Committee may, on the basis of the State party's observations and other relevant information available to it, decide to designate one or more of its members to carry out the confidential inquiry. The Committee shall invite the State party concerned to cooperate with it. Such an inquiry may include, with the agreement of the State party, a visit to its territory.
The findings of the designated members are then examined by the Committee and transmitted to the State party together with any appropriate comments and suggestions. It invites the State party to inform the Committee of the action taken in response to the findings and suggestions.
Upon completion of the proceedings, the Committee may decide, after consultation with the State party concerned, to include a summary account of the results of the proceedings in its annual report or, if agreed with the State party, to make public the full text of the report. Since its establishment in 1988, the Committee has carried out seven inquiries.