COPCAT Shorts – One-Year Follow-Up Report Under UNCAT

Although largely going unnoticed, Canada has recently placed into the public domain its one-year follow-up report to the UN Committee against Torture. Upon being examined by the UN Committee in November 2018, Canada had a year to provide the treaty body with information concerning four areas of specific concern. The nine-page one-year follow-up document (available below) comprises Canada’s formal response to the UN Committee against Torture.

As requested in the 2018 Concluding observations, Canada has responded to the UN Committee on the following four areas of concern:

  • Diplomatic assurances;
  • Adequate redress for the torture and ill-treatment of Canadians detained abroad;
  • Security certificates;
  • The forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women.

The latter concern was widely reported by Canada’s news media at the time of Canada’s examination by the UN Committee against Torture in November 2018. Furthermore, domestic human rights groups and Indigenous organizations continue to closely monitor Canada’s concrete follow-up to the scandal. Canada’s one-year follow-up report thus provides more detailed information about its response to the unlawful practice, described by the UN Committee as a form of torture.

Prison by Duncan Drew (2010)

As for the issue closest to this website’s heart, regrettably no information was demanded by the UN Committee about the OPCAT as part of the one-year follow-up procedure. No matter, frequent visitors to the Canada OPCAT Project website may recall that in its Concluding observations the UN Committee against Torture recommended that Canada should undertake the following steps:

“Complete the process towards accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention, while introducing mechanisms to ensure the participation of civil society, indigenous groups and other stakeholders in the entire process.” [§21d]

On 23 December 2019 the Canada OPCAT Project submitted an Access to Information Request to Global Affairs Canada to determine to what extent Canada had acted on this international recommendation. In late January 2020 Global Affairs Canada responded, stating that it required an additional 45-days to process the request, which, according to the relevant legislation, is now due no later than today – 7 March 2020.

Whether Global Affairs Canada respects this looming, legally stipulated deadline remains to be seen. As yet, nothing has arrived in today’s post.

More generally, Canada’s one-year follow-up response ultimately paves the way for the submission and examination of Canada’s 8th period report, which is due on 7 December 2022, as well as civil society’s invaluable parallel views on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture in practice. As most readers will appreciate, the two are not necessarily the same.


Read Canada’s one-year follow-up report below:

Read the UN Committee’s views on Canada’s ratification of the OPCAT.

Find out more about the UN Committee’s different concerns about immigration detention in Canada.

See what the UN Committee had to say about psychiatric detention.

Read the full Concluding observations relating to Canada’s November 2018 review.