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We have been working on the convention which is still in the making and has not yet been ratified, to implement protection against torture. The United Nations also adopted early in 1955, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, providing for a humane system of correctional institutions, largely for the purpose of avoiding abuses in the nature of torture. The instrument is now quite old, and seems to work to a very large extent. Quinquennially, the Secretariat gets information from member states about compliance with these rules.
But, that alone doesn't do the trick. There is currently pending before the General Assembly, the draft body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. Again, the purpose of this instrument, once it is adopted, is to prevent torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Since it has been found that very frequently members of the medical profession or quasi-medical personnel are involved in the execution of inhumane treatment or punishment and torture, the United Nations has adopted Principles of Medical Ethics, in 1983. Currently, there is again an inquiry pending among member states to find out the extent to which this instrument is being implemented.
In 1979, my office assisted the member delegations in drafting the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the principal provision of which is a declaration against torture, a definition of what constitutes torture and an obligation on all law enforcement officers in the world to refrain from practicing such abusive practices.
A first circular has been sent to governments and responses from some 30 governments have been received in the meantime, about the extent to which member states are enforcing or implementing this particular instrument.
That, too, will not help. The worst form of torture is, of course, arbitrary and summary executions. The United Nations has figures indicating that this form of torture in the last 15 years was practiced on over 2 million people. In other words, 2 million people were arbitrarily and summarily executed.
The most recent instrument to join this growing network of human rights instruments of the United Nations for the prevention of torture is a draft declaration on the rights of victims of crimes or other illegal acts involving the abuse of power.
This document actually has created a compensation board, to which member states can contribute, and out of which victims of torture can be compensated. The first session of this board has taken place just last year.
Mr. Chairman, these are all wonderful instruments, by now a growing and interlocking network of documents trying to make it impossible to practice torture. Yet we know and we have heard today that the practice of torture is continuing.
Therefore, one of the most urgent tasks which the United Nations has given itself is that of seeking to prevent torture by any means possible. Ultimately, I'm afraid that we will not be able to prevent torture unless we develop in all human beings, the kind of revulsion for torture, over the years, which human beings have de
veloped toward cannibalism. At one time, we ate our neighbors. Today, this is so unthinkable that we don't have to prohibit in penal codes anymore. We have to accomplish the same with respect to torture.
I think this can be accomplished within a matter of years. How? We have heard a number of suggestions here. On the international level, every time I would meet with heads of criminal justice systems of nations, I would talk and plead with them, particularly if they are coming from countries where governments change frequently: for God's sake, create yourselves a decent criminal justice system. You may be the next victim of that system.
To some extent, that helps. But, we have found in the experience of the United Nations that most abuses do not occur because of malice or ill will. They occur simply through stupidity, incredibly incompetent recruitment proceedures, and total ignorance.
Therefore, the United Nations has embarked on a program of what the Spaniards call "Capacitacion," that is to make people "capable." In other words, indoctrination so as to make members of the law enforcement professions internalize the values of what these instruments stand for, to make them feel that it is unthinkable to commit such crimes as torture.
The United Nations maintains five institutes, four of them regional, for research and training of law enforcement professionals. One is located in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was founded in 1976. The institute has held a number of courses for upper and middle management level criminal justice personnel, law enforcement, police, corrections, the judiciary in which the international instruments are being stressed and particularly the instruments against torture.
It is the hope of the organization of course, that those who undergo this training, this experience, will go home with a multiplier effect and train the trainers in their own countries.
In Central America, of course, the problem has been that as soon as many of these officers got back, the governments have been toppled, and somebody else is in power, so it seemed we had trained the wrong people and we had to start all over again with the next generation.
The instruments are similarly being taught in Asia and the Pacific, in Japan, at the U.N. training institute at Fuchu, and at the Cairo Institute for the Middle East. As yet an institute for Africa South of the Sahara, does not exist, but in Helsinki, an institute has been established to train trainers, if you will, for the socialist countries and the Western European group.
From time to time, the U.S. Government has supported these U.N. efforts with small contributions, but there has not as yet been the kind of commitment the world is looking for.
If Finland can contribute $100,000, if Italy can contribute $2 million, it looks silly if the United Nations receives a $25,000 contribution from the U.S. Government in this global effort to propagate human rights and to prevent torture.
Mr. Chairman, I fear I have spoken too long already. There is an additional proposal, of course, to turn crimes like arbitrary and summary executions and torture into international crimes. That would create the kind of universality of jurisdiction which Mr.
Posner has referred to. Perpetrators would be international criminals, would not be admissible into the United States, and could be arrested wherever found.
But, since we do not as yet have an international criminal court, it is a bit of pie in the sky. I can, therefore, only repeat that the only hope we have is intensive training all over the world, from grade school level on up to the ranks of personel in law enforcement and criminal justice.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Mr. Mueller's prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PROF. GERHARD O.W. MUELLER, SCHOOL OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, RUTGERS-THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY
POLICE CONDUCT AND THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE
My statement rests on the experience I have gathered while serving as Chief of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch, from 1974 to 1982. The office I headed is responsible for all activities in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice assigned to it by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. The activities normally involve the co-ordination of international activities aimed at the prevention of crime and improving the quality of criminal justice, by ensuring co-operation among Member States, by the provision of models, standards and conventions, and by providing technical assistance when requested. A considerable part of these activities is concerned with upgrading the capacity of law enforcement officers all around the world to uphold standards of human rights in the performance of police duties. These standards can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 5) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art. 7), which declare that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, innuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The International Covenant (art. 10 (1) ) also provides that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. These principles are also contained in the constitutions of mo st Member States. Despite universal agreement on fundamental principles, actual practice in the vast majority of Member States ranged from massive disregard to tacit
acceptance of occasional violations.
Violations have been reported constantly to the United Nations Division (now Centre) of Human Rights (Geneva), as well as to the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch. In the Fall of 1974, shortly after I assumed the office of the Chief of the Branch, the deplorable state of affairs regarding police abuses, and especially torture, was brought before the General Assembly. By resolution 3218 (XXIX) of 6 November 1974 on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the General Assembly requested Member States to furnish the Secretary-General with information on the subject, in law and practice, and ordered my office to prepare a comprehensive report on the situation world-wide, with a view toward the preparation of a universal code of conduct for law enforcement officials. At an international ad hoc meeting of experts, held at Airlie House, Warrenton, Va., and co-sponsored by the United Nations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, a rudimentary draft code of conduct was prepared. This document, together with the Airlie House report and the Secretary-General's report based on the responses of forty-two Member States from all of the regions of the world, served as the basis for world-wide debate at the Fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva, Switzerland, August 1975. This U.N. Congress adopted, and the General Assembly subsequently ratified, the "Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" (Appendix 1). The General Assemby then proceeded to complete the "Code