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Interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1(a)6 of the Rules of Procedure of the OSCE

Delivered by EU at the 27th OSCE Ministerial Council, Vienna, 4th December 2020.

In connection with the adoption of this decision on the prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, I would like to make the following interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1(A)6 of the OSCE Rules of Procedure on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, Albania in its national capacity, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America.

We welcome the adoption of this important decision, which we believe will reinforce the efforts of the OSCE and all participating States on the pressing issue of the prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the OSCE region.

We would like to stress that the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is a peremptory norm of international law without territorial limitation, which applies at all times, in all places and under any circumstances, including situations of occupation.

We express our grave concern over the persistence of cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the OSCE region, including areas under occupation as well as in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol illegally annexed by Russia and in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine currently not under Ukrainian government control due to acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014.

We believe that the decision would have benefited from having explicit language that underlined the need to provide access to places of deprivation of liberty and to detainees by international human rights monitors, within their mandates, which is an important safeguard and a crucial element to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This remains the position of the European Union and aligning participating States.

Mr. Chairperson, I request that this statement be attached to the decision and the journal of the day.