Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on a Briefing by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or puni

Gregory McElwain
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 15, 2018


As Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer stated in his July interim report, torture and ill-treatment “inflict lasting trauma, cripple all bonds of humanity and seriously damage entire communities.” These practices are dehumanizing for the victims, perpetrators, and societies in which these practices are tolerated.

The United States categorically condemns all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We reaffirm our commitment to respecting the prohibition on these practices in all places, at all times, with no exceptions.

We condemn deplorable evidence of recurring torture and ill-treatment across the globe.

Regrettably, there exist many examples of this horrific practice. In Russia, authorities have not fully investigated and held to account those responsible for the reported 2017 campaign of illegal detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings of men in the Chechen Republic on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

In Syria, the Assad regime continues to use torture as a routine weapon of war against its own people. In Iran, the regime uses torture to systematically terrorize its opponents and to deny fundamental freedoms to the Iranian people.

In China numerous former prisoners and detainees reported suffering abuses at the hands of officials, including beatings and electric shock, among others. There are reportedly up to one million Uighurs and other Muslims being held in “re-education” camps where they face abuse, mistreatment and psychological abuse aimed at forcing them to renounce their ethnic and religious identity.

We condemn the Maduro regime’s involvement in the death of Venezuelan opposition councilman Fernando Alban, who died while in the custody of Venezuela’s intelligence service.

The United States calls on these and all countries to uphold their international obligations and commitments, investigate all credible allegations of torture, and hold accountable any individuals found responsible for such acts.

What steps can be taken to involve civil society and other third-party actors to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?