Worldwide Experts Discuss "Best Practices" for Litigation Before the UN Committee Against Torture as a Tool Against Torture

American University Washington College of Law’s Human Rights Brief to Publish Conference Proceedings


Washington, D.C., April 15, 2013 - American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is sponsoring a full-day conference April 15 on the best practices for litigation before the United Nations Committee against Torture (UN CAT) to better protect and assist victims of torture.

Panelists include experts from the UN, regional systems, government, civil society, and academia, and from countries including Russia, Senegal, Mexico, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, France, Colombia and the UK.

Article 22 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment sets forth the Committee against Torture’s individual complaints procedure. Under Article 22, the Committee considers petitions (“communications”) from or on behalf of alleged victims of a violation of a Convention provision(s) by a State Party that has recognized the Committee’s competence to receive and consider communications (currently, 65 of the 153 State Parties to the Convention have done so). Since the establishment of this procedure, the Committee has decided numerous cases, giving a clear response to acts of torture committed around the world.

"This conference will help States and petitioners better understand the procedural and substantive issues involved in complaints brought before the Committee against Torture, including the scope of the State Partys’ obligations under article 14 of the Convention to provide redress and rehabilitation to victims," said Claudio Grossman, dean, American University Washington College of Law and chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture. "American University Washington College of Law is honored to cohost this important event with the World Organisation Against Torture, a renowned actor in protecting and promoting human rights worldwide."

“We need to reinforce the role of the complaint procedure to the Committee Against Torture in the global fight against torture," said Gerald Staberock, secretary general of the OMCT. "It is time for states that have not yet done so to accede to its jurisdiction, and we need to mobilize lawyers, activists and human rights defenders to access this remedy effectively. Strengthening victim and witness protection and building effective implementation of decisions of the Committee will be central to making it the principal tool for protecting individual victims."

Conference panelists:

  • Claudio Grossman, dean, AUWCL; chairperson, UN Committee against Torture
  • Gerald Staberock, secretary-general, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)
  • Gisella Gori, senior political advisor, Delegation of the European Union to the United States
  • Helene Legeay, Middle East and North Africa programme manager, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT)
  • Carla Ferstman, director of Redress
  • Diego Rodríguez-Pinzón, professorial lecturer-in-residence; co-director, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, AUWCL
  • Ibrahima Kane, advocacy director, Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA)
  • Octavio Amezcua, Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights
  • Karina Moskalenko, Russian human rights lawyer
  • Christian De Vos (’07), advocacy officer, Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Elsy Chemurgor Sainna, International Commission of Jurists, Kenya
  • Gabriela Echeverria, visiting scholar, Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School
  • Mario Lopez Garelli, senior human rights specialist, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • Hari Phuyal, Advocacy Forum Nepal
  • Juan E. Méndez, visiting professor, AUWCL; UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Human Rights Brief at AUWCL will publish the conference proceedings in its upcoming volume 20.4. Founded in 1994 as a publication of the school’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the Brief is distributed to approximately 4,000 subscribers in more than 130 countries.

Created in 1985, OMCT is the main coalition of international NGOs fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. With 311 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network and many tens of thousands correspondents in every country, OMCT is the most important network of NGOs working for the protection and the promotion of human rights in the world. Visit

Media inquiries can be directed to Megan Smith at American University Washington College of Law,, 202-274-4276; and to Fernanda Santana at OMCT,, + 41 (793775446).


In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 100 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its 1700 JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit


This conference is being held with the financial assistance of the European Union and the Oak Foundation. Its content is of the sole responsibility of OMCT and cannot be considered as reflecting the position of its supporting institutions.