A person being victim of assumed violations of the Convention against Torture can act in two ways. On the one hand by reporting to NGOs the case of violation of which he/she has knowledge so that the information would be reported to the Committee against Torture for a later investigation. On the other hand by starting the procedure of an individual complaint, if the referred State has accepted this competence of the Committee.
Under Article 22 of the Convention, the States parties may declare that they recognize the Committee’s competence to receive and consider communications (complaints) from, or on behalf of, individuals who claim to be victims of a violation of the provisions of the Convention.
For a communication to be declared admissible, it must not:
The Committee may request the State party concerned or the author of the communication to submit additional information or clarification relevant for the question of admissibility. If the Committee decides that a communication is admissible, the author of the communication and the State party are informed.
It then examines its substance. The State party has six months for the submission of its explanations to the Committee or for the information about the measures it may have taken to remedy the situation. The authors of the communication may also provide further information and be invited, if the Committee deems it necessary, to participate in its private meetings. During this period the Committee may request the State party concerned to take measures in order avoid irreparable damage to the alleged victim of the violation. This provisional measure does not prejudge the Committee’s final decision, but is supposed to offer protection to a person who claims a violation of the Convention.
The decision of the Committee is then transmitted to the author of the communication and to the State party concerned. The Committee invites the State party to inform it of the measures it has taken in the light of that decision.
The individual communications are considered in private meetings; all documents are confidential. However, the Committee includes in its annual report a summary of the communications examined, of the explanations of the States parties concerned, and of its own views.
The communications submitted to the Committee against Torture have to be sent to the following address:
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters)
In Africa, the States having accepted the competence of the Committee are (as of 1 October 2008):
Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, The Congo, The Democratic Republic Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, The Niger, Nigeria, Swaziland, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tunisia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia