United Kingdom Fail to Implement Torture Safeguards Protocol


It came to late to ensure that the torture suffered by the ‘Hooded Men’ reported on Celtic News recently did not occur. Nor was it in place to ensure that ill treatment in prisons, holding centres and police stations was stopped during the 1970-80s.

However today there are a set of Human Rights instruments, the Istanbul Protocol of the United Nations, which could and would ensure that staff in prisons and police stations, particularly medical officers, are properly trained and equipped to ensure torture and ill-treatment cannot take place.

To give it its full title the Istanbul Protocol (Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) is intended to serve as a set of international guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture, and for reporting such findings to the judiciary and any other investigative body. It was adopted by the UN in 1999.

Between 2011 and 2013 we pressed the (various) governments throughout the UK and in the Isle of Man to adopt the Protocol. The only positive response we received was from the Office of Kenny MacAskill the Scottish Justice Secretary.

We pointed out to the United Kingdom government that the UN Committee Against Torture had criticised the Irish Government for failing to ensure that training was provided on the Protocol. We had hoped this might pressure the UK to address the anomaly in territories within their jurisdiction.

However in the latest:

‘United Nations Universal Periodic Review Mid Term Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies (2014)’

there is no mention of it.


We will reiterate our concerns to the OHCHR about the omission.

Links here to our earlier posts on the Istanbul Protocol here:

UK: Justice Ministries Queried On Torture Convention Training

Justice Departments Respond on Istanbul Principles

Scotland: Positive Response On Istambul Protocol Application

Istanbul Protocol – IoM Response

CAT Urged to Press UK on Failure to Istanbul Protocol

Please note in the ‘Mid Term Report’ referred to above the UK do indicate that they will implement the ‘Istanbul Convention’ but this is a Council of Europe human rights document unrelated to the Istanbul Protocol referred to in our correspondence.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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