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UN rights expert urges refusal of goods from countries engaging in torture

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez [official profile] on Wednesday urged [news release] governmental bodies to refuse goods and information obtained by "acts of torture and ill-treatment" in other countries. Mendez noted the hypocrisy of governments that condemn torture committed by another country while continuing to accept products and information from them. He stated that the justification behind the complete prohibition of torture and also of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text] includes the objective of "removing any incentive to undertake torture anywhere in the world." Mendez also explained that the affirmative obligation of a government to prevent torture includes the measures that the government takes to prevent torture and ill-treatment within another country. He noted that "[i]t is not sufficient to ensure that the judicial process is free from the taint of torture. Torture must not be encouraged, condoned, or acquiesced in all manifestations of public power, executive and judicial." Mendez also stated the importance of governments being aware of the fact that receiving, sharing and collecting any information tainted by ill-treatment or torture are acts which are subject to international law.

Despite attempts by the UN and various advocacy groups to eradicate torture among the international community, it still remains a constant and unyielding problem in a number of countries. In February Mendez urged [JURIST report] the Tajikistan government to implement policies and laws that have been previously adopted by the government in order to end torture and ill-treatment within the country. Earlier that month Human Rights Watch released a report outlining the prevalent trafficking and torture [JURIST report] of Eritrean refugees for ransom by Sudanese and Egyptian individuals that has been occurring since 2010. In January the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for an investigation [JURIST report] into torture allegations against Ukraine following widespread arrests of protesters, which have since been offered amnesty. In December lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees, arguing before the European Court of Human Rights, accused Poland [JURIST report] of serving as a secret torture site for the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive].

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