Supporting Vietnam in abolishing torture
12 Oct 2016 - 16:09
Source: Clingendael Academy

Clingendael Academy provided the third training for civil servants from Vietnam on the implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). The training focused specifically on the obligations under UNCAT for security forces, and on how to further improve implementation through training of police, law enforcement and detention officials in Vietnam. Clingendael Academy cooperated with three different training institutions in the Netherlands:

The United Nations Convention Against Torture, article 10

The convention outlines a number of obligations in a very detailed way. Regarding implementation on the ground, art. 10 is one of the more elaborate practical provisions that is specifically important for police and detention staff. Art 10 requires states to train their officials and staff with regards to the prohibition to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (CIDT).

Clingendael Academy’s training course focuses specifically on this obligation, by sharing best experiences from the Netherlands and around the world. After having discussed the convention in detail in December 2015, and having looked at the specific obligations relevant for Police forces in April 2016, this week focused on sharing the best practices of the Netherlands with regards to art. 10 implementation and best practices around the world on implementing the convention in general.

Practical Training and Sharing of Best Practices

Around the world, persons deprived of their liberty are at the greatest risk of being the subject of torture or other forms of abuse. The professionality of and instructions for officials working with these persons is crucial to the effective prevention of these practices. To review how UNCAT article 10 on training exactly this staff is implemented in the Netherlands, we learned from the training curricula and methods at the Netherlands Police Academy, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, and the Netherlands Training Institution for Detention Staff. Trainers and educational experts from these organisations explained what their training curricula for their staff members look like, and how the prohibition to torture and CIDT is part of this. The preventive measures taken inside their training curricula and rules of engagement were thoroughly discussed.

For example, they learned about the way their staff are taught to deal with violence which was explained and shown with the use of actors. Interview & interrogation trainers from the Marechaussee and Police Academy gave an insight into how their staff is equipped with the right tools and skills to conduct professional interviews, as well as how to use advanced technology such as audio- and visual recordings in suspect, victim or witness interviews.

Legal implementation and reporting

The Convention obliges States to implement a number of specific provisions in the national legal systems, and build in safeguards to prevent the use of torture and CIDT. Examples include:

  • the definition of torture (UNCAT art. 1);
  • the non-derogability of the prohibition (UNCAT art. 2);
  • or the prohibition to use of statements obtained through torture as evidence in proceedings (UNCAT art. 15).

To learn more about these obligations and to discover how other countries have implemented the treaty, Mr. Matthew Sands from the Association for the Prevention of Torture in Geneva, gave a presentation to answer these questions. Additionally, as he has observed many of the Committee hearings in Geneva with States’ parties, he shared his experience with regards to reporting obligations and procedures.

As a complement to this workshop, we organised a virtual meeting with one of the ten Committee Members, Ms. Sapana Pradhan-Malla. Ms. Pradhan-Malla answered the most pressing questions from the delegation, and stressed that the hearings are an open dialogue between States and the Committee, while noting the Committee’s role as supporting mechanism on implementation.

A unique training programme

During the official opening of the training, Mr. Arjen van den Berg, deputy Director for Asia and Oceania at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, welcomed the delegation and congratulated Vietnam on its efforts in UNCAT implementation, while also noting the importance of further steps to be taken. The delegation, headed by Lieutenant General Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Anh from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, is responsible for the implementation of UNCAT in Vietnam, as well as delivering Vietnam’s initial report on UNCAT in Geneva. Lt. Gen. Ngoc Anh expressed his sincere gratitude to support provided by the Netherlands, and reaffirmed Vietnam’s commitment in implementing the convention. After the opening, he briefed on progress made since the last training edition in Hanoi, April 2016.

Implementation follows ratification

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam ratified the UNCAT in March 2015, committing itself to fully eliminate the practice of torture. Clingendael Academy supports the Vietnamese government in its effort with a training programme for three years aimed at supporting the implementation process for the period 2015-2017. Their Initial Report to the Committee Against Torture in Geneva is due later this year.

Future cooperation between Clingendael Academy & Vietnam

A follow-up session is scheduled to take place in Hanoi in December. During this 2-day workshop, further knowledge and skills will be shared with regards to UNCAT implementation and interrogation training and techniques.

If you would like to know more about this programme or our support to security sector capacity-building, please contact Mr. Adriaan Zondag or Mr. Bart Hogeveen.