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COPCAT Shorts – CTI Best Practices Excluding Torture Evidence

Tired and jaded by constantly reading about COVID-19? Then look no further, dear readers, than the Geneva-based Convention Against Torture Initiative’s (CTI) excellent new tool on best practices excluding torture evidence. The CTI tool, while not exactly the most sunny of reads subject matter-wise, is unquestionably a very useful resource. Better still, it has nothing remotely to do with the wretched coronavirus, currently blighting our lives.

Prepared by the highly respected NGO REDRESS for CTI, the organizations have brought to the fore another exceptionally high quality resource aimed at ensuring adherence to the UN Convention against Torture’s key Article 15, prohibiting the admission of evidence obtained by torture in any proceedings.

The new CTI tool.

Published on 27 April 2020, the accompanying CTI press release outlines the objectives of the tool:

“CTI’s new tool is tailored to State policy-makers, police investigators, prosecutors, medical practitioners and judges, and explains not only the important rationale of Article 15 for the overall effectiveness of investigations and court proceedings, but shares a range of positive State practices. The tool clarifies that the rule of non-admission of the use of evidence obtained by torture puts an important break on corrupt practices, removes one of the primary incentives for abuse, and safeguards due process rights and the fairness of court proceedings. Applying this rule helps dismantle unreliable confession-based policing and results in better and more reliable evidence gathering and investigations.

The tool’s compilation of good State practices are drawn from 24 countries from all geographical regions and showcase legislative, policy and practical ways the “exclusionary rule” is being respected.”

In its opening pages the tool outlines 8 extremely compelling reasons for excluding evidence obtained by way of torture or ill-treatment – notwithstanding the illegality of the practice – which serve as a useful reminder of why this all-important provision must always hold firm.

In order to ensure that torture evidence is excluded in everyday practice, CTI’s resource identifies the key role played by different criminal justice actors, including:

  • Police interviewers and investigators;
  • Prosecutors;
  • Medical practitioners;
  • Judges.

While the tool’s focus on the above actors may not be especially new, the citation of numerous specific country examples very much brings the document to life.

Prison – Anthony Albright (2020).

The CTI tool additionally advances a range of examples of national-focused proceedings and processes which specifically exclude evidence obtained through torture, including from countries as diverse as Australia, South Africa, England and Wales, Brazil and Thailand.

The final section of the tool titled Procedures and Practices to Exclude Torture Evidence: Things to Consider is especially useful. It comprises a list of questions to bear in mind when considering existing laws, procedures and instructions as well as in relation to the implementation of new procedures and encouraging new practices.

Best of all, none of the above has anything to do with the coronavirus. Thus, immense thanks are due to CTI and REDRESS, not only for producing another highly practical and informative resource, but equally for a much-needed distraction from the current gloom-laden news headlines!

Interested readers may also wish to scrutinize more closely CTI’s other excellent resources which form its so-called UNCAT Implementation Tools, all of which are designed to share good practices among states on the effective implementation of the UN Convention against Torture.


Download CTI’s Non-admission of evidence obtained by torture and ill-treatment: Procedures and practices tool.

Learn more about the Convention Against Torture Initiative.

Discover other torture-prevention resources.

Check out Dignity’s legal fact-sheets on torture prevention.

Posted by mp in Absolute prohibition of torture, Publication, Tools, Torture prevention, UNCAT