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Civil society coalition tells UN of UK’s widespread failures to tackle torture and ill-treatment, 07/05/19 [W/E/NI/S]

Today and tomorrow in Geneva, the UK will face scrutiny for its record on torture and ill-treatment at home and abroad, as the UN Committee against Torture reviews compliance with its obligations over the last five years under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) on 7 and 8 May 2019.

Nearly 80 UK civil society groups and experts have submitted evidence to the Committee, revealing wide-ranging failures by the UK to meet its international obligations to prevent torture and ill-treatment. This significant body of evidence has been compiled in a civil society report by REDRESS alongside Liberty, Freedom from Torture, Children’s Rights Alliance for England (Just for Kids Law), Children in Wales, and Disability Rights UK.

The report reveals how prisons in England and Wales are at a breaking point, with the number of incidents of violence at their highest rate in 10 years. An increasing number of people are also being detained under the Mental Health Act, with a 36% rise in the number of detentions since 2010. England and Wales continue to have the highest level of child incarceration in Western Europe and far too many children continue to be detained inappropriately, with self-harm by children in detention rising by 40% to nearly 1,800 incidents in the last year.

The report stresses the need for a cross-government policy response that is capable of involving the many different parts of the UK administration to tackle torture and ill-treatment at home, following the UK government’s decision to drop in 2015 its strategy for the Prevention of Torture, which was the UK’s central prevention policy that coordinated the actions of disparate structures.

Sean O’Neill, Policy Director at Children in Wales, said:

“This report makes for very sobering reading and shows the scale of rights violations taking place impacting on some of the most vulnerable members of our society, including children and young people. Whilst many of the areas in the report remain the responsibility of the UK Government, there are many actions which we in Wales can and should be taking to better protect and support those who are affected by violence and ill-treatment. The commitment of the Welsh Government to make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary and to delivering legislation which provides greater protection for children through the removal of the defence of reasonable punishment are just two examples of how Welsh politicians can make positive changes. The scale of the challenge is not insurmountable, and Wales must now make progress in tackling poverty and abuse, and truly establish a country in which all children are safe, free from harm and have their rights respected and protected.”

You can read the full report here: uk-implementation-of-uncat_redress_march2019_web

For more information, please contact: Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications of REDRESS, on +44 (0)20 7793 1777 or +44 (0)785 7110076 (out of hours) or eva@redress.org.