CONVENTION FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING
TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The member States of the
Council of Europe, signatory hereto,
Having regard to the provisions of the Convention for the Protection
of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
Recalling that, under Article 3 of the same Convention, 'no one
shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment',
Noting that the machinery provided for in that Convention operates
in relation to persons who alleged that they are victims of violations
of Article 3;
Convinced that the protection of persons deprived of their liberty
against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
could be strengthened by non-judicial means of a preventive character
based on visits;
Have agreed as follows:
There shall be established a European Committee for the Prevention
of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter
referred to as 'the Committee'). The Committee shall, by means
of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their
liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection
of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment
Each Party shall permit visits, in accordance with this Convention,
to any place within its jurisdiction where persons are deprived
of their liberty by a public authority.
In the application of this Convention, the Committee and the
competent national authorities of the Party concerned shall co-operate
with each other.
1. The Committee shall consist of a number of members equal to
that of the Parties.
2. The members of the Committee shall be chosen from among persons
of high moral character, known for their competence in the field
of human rights or having professional experience in the areas
covered by this Convention.
3. No two members of the Committee may be nationals of the same
4. The members shall serve in their individual capacity, shall
be independent and impartial, and shall be available to serve
the Committee effectively.
1. The members of the Committee shall be elected by the Committee
of Ministers of the Council of Europe by an absolute majority
of votes, from a list of names drawn up by the Bureau of the Consultative
Assembly of the Council of Europe; each national delegation of
the Parties in the Consultative Assembly shall put forward three
candidates, of whom two at least shall be its nationals.
2. The same procedure shall be followed in filling casual vacancies.
3. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a period
of four years. They may only be re-elected once. However, among
the members elected at the first election, the terms of three
members shall expire at the end of two years. The members whose
terms are to expire at the end of the initial period of two years
shall be chosen by lot by the Secretary General of the Council
of Europe immediately after the first election has been completed.
1. The Committee shall meet in camera. A quorum shall be equal
to the majority of its members. The decisions of the Committee
shall be taken by a majority of the members present, subject to
the provisions of Article 10, paragraph 2.
2. The Committee shall draw up its own rules of procedure.
3. The Secretariat of the Committee shall be provided by the Secretary
General of the Council of Europe.
1. The Committee shall organise visits to places referred to
in Article 2. Apart from periodic visits, the Committee may organise
such other visits as appear to it to be required in the circumstances.
2. As a general rule, the visits shall be carried out by at least
two members of the Committee. The Committee may, if it considers
it necessary, be assisted by experts and interpreters.
1. The Committee shall notify the Government of the Party concerned
of its intention to carry out a visit. After such notification,
it may at any time visit any place referred to in Article 2.
2. A Party shall provide the Committee with the following facilities
to carry out its task:
a. access to its territory and the right to travel without restriction;
b. full information on the places where persons deprived of their
liberty are being held;
c. unlimited access to any place where persons are deprived of
their liberty, including the right to move inside such places
d. other information available to the Party which is necessary
for the Committee to carry out its task. In seeking such information,
the Committee shall have regard to applicable rules of national
law and professional ethics.
3. The Committee may interview in private persons deprived of
4. The Committee may communicate freely with any person whom it
believes can supply relevant information.
5. If necessary, the Committee may immediately communicate observation
to the competent authorities of the Party concerned.
1. In exceptional circumstances, the competent authorities of
the Party concerned may make representations to the Committee
against a visit at the time or to the particular place proposed
by the Committee. Such representations may only be made on grounds
of national defence, public safety, serious disorder in places
where persons are deprived of their liberty, the medical condition
of a person or that an urgent interrogation relating to a serious
crime is in progress.
2. Following such representations, the Committee and the Party
shall immediately enter into consultations in order to clarify
the situation and seek agreement on arrangements to enable the
Committee to exercise its functions expeditiously. Such arrangements
may include the transfer to another place of any person whom the
Committee proposed to visit. Until the visit takes place, the
Party shall provide information to the Committee about any person
1. After each visit, the Committee shall draw up a report on
the facts found during the visit, taking account of any observations
which may have been submitted by the Party concerned. It shall
transmit to the latter its report containing any recommendations
it considers necessary. The Committee may consult with the Party
with a view to suggesting, if necessary, improvements in the protection
of persons deprived of their liberty.
2. If the Party fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the
situation in the light of the Committee's recommendations, the
Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to
make known its views, by a majority of two-thirds of its members
to make a public statement on the matter.
1. The information gathered by the Committee in relation to a
visit, its report and its consultations with the Party concerned
shall be confidential.
2. The Committee shall publish its report, together with any comments
of the Party concerned, whenever requested to do so by that Party.
3. However, no personal data shall be published without the express
consent of the person concerned.
Subject to the rules of confidentiality in Article 11, the Committee
shall every year submit to the Committee of Ministers a general
report on its activities which shall be transmitted to the Consultative
Assembly and made public.
The members of the Committee, experts and other persons assisting
the Committee are required, during and after their terms of office,
to maintain the confidentiality of the facts or information of
which they have become aware during the discharge of their functions.
1. The names of persons assisting the Committee shall be specified
in the notification under Article 8, paragraph 1.
2. Experts shall act on the instructions and under the authority
of the Committee. They shall have particular knowledge and experience
in the areas covered by this Convention and shall be bound by
the same duties of independence, impartiality and availability
as the members of the Committee.
3. A Party may exceptionally declare that an expert or other person
assisting the Committee may not be allowed to take part in a visit
to a place within its jurisdiction.
Each Party shall inform the Committee of the name and address
of the authority competent to receive notifications to its Government,
and of any liaison officer it may appoint.
The Committee, its members and experts referred to in Article
7, paragraph 2 shall enjoy the privileges and immunities set out
in the Annex to this Convention.
1. This Convention shall not prejudice the provisions of domestic
law or any international agreement which provide greater protection
for persons deprived of their liberty.
2. Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as limiting or
derogating from the competence of the organs of the European Convention
on Human Rights or from the obligations assumed by the Parties
under that Convention.
3. The Committee shall not visit places which representatives
or delegates of Protecting Powers or the International Committee
of the Red Cross effectively visit on a regular basis by virtue
of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Additional
Protocols of 8 June 1977 thereto.
This Convention shall be open for signature by the member States
of the Council of Europe. It is subject to ratification, acceptance
or approval. Instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval
shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of
1. This Convention shall enter into force on the first day of
the month following the expiration of a period of three months
after the date on which seven member States of the Council of
Europe have expressed their consent to be bound by the Convention
in accordance with the provisions of Article 18.
2. In respect of any member State which subsequently expresses
its consent to be bound by it, the Convention shall enter into
force on the first day of the month following the expiration of
a period of three months after the date of the deposit of the
instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval.
1. Any State may at the time of signature or when depositing
its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, specify
the territory or territories to which this Convention shall apply.
2. Any State may at any later date, by a declaration addressed
to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, extend the
application of this Convention to any other territory specified
in the declaration. In respect of such territory the Convention
shall enter into force on the first day of the month following
the expiration of a period of three months after the date of receipt
of such declaration by the Secretary General.
3. Any declaration made under the two preceding paragraphs may,
in respect of any territory specified in such declaration, be
withdrawn by a notification addressed to the Secretary General.
The withdrawal shall become effective on the first day of the
month following the expiration of a period of three months after
the date of receipt of such notification by the Secretary General.
No reservation may be made in respect of the provisions of this
1. Any Party may, at any time, denounce this Convention by means
of a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council
2. Such denunciation shall become effective on the first day of
the month following the expiration of a period of twelve months
after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify the
member States of the Council of Europe of:
a. any signature;
b. the deposit of any instrument of ratification, acceptance or
c. any date of entry into force of this Convention in accordance
with Article 19 and 20;
d. any other act, notification or communication relating to this
Convention, except for action taken in pursuance of Articles 8
Privileges and immunities
1. For the purpose of this annex, references to members of the
Committee shall be deemed to include references to experts mentioned
in Article 7, paragraph 2.
2. The members of the Committee shall, while exercising their
functions and during journeys made in the exercise of their functions,
enjoy the following privileges and immunities:
a. immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure
of their personal baggage and, in respect of words spoken or written
and all acts done by them in their official capacity, immunity
from legal process of every kind;
b. exemption from any restrictions on their freedom of movement
on exist from and return to their country of residence, and entry
into and exit from the country in which they exercise their functions,
and from alien registration in the country which they are visiting
or through which they are passing in the exercise of their functions.
3. In the course of journeys undertaken in the exercise of their
functions, the members of the Committee shall, in the matter of
customs and exchange control, be accorded:
a. by their own Government, the same facilities as those accorded
to senior officials travelling abroad on temporary official duty;
b. by the Governments of other Parties, the same facilities as
those accorded to representatives of foreign Governments on temporary
4. Documents and papers of the Committee, in so far as they related
to the business of the Committee, shall be inviolable. The official
correspondence and other official communications of the Committee
may not be held up or subjected to censorship.
5. In order to secure for the members of the Committee complete
freedom of speech and complete independence on the discharge of
their duties, the immunity from legal process in respect of words
spoken or written and all acts done by them in discharging their
duties shall continue to be accorded, notwithstanding that the
persons concerned are no longer engaged in the discharge of such
6. Privileges and immunities are accorded to the members of the
Committee, not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves
but in order to safeguard the independent exercise of their functions.
The Committee alone shall be competent to waive the immunity of
its members; it has not only the right, but is under a duty, to
waive the immunity of one of its members in any case where, in
its opinion, the immunity would impede the course of justice,
and where it can be waived without prejudice to the purpose for
which the immunity is accorded.