The Irish Catholic newspaper is misrepresenting the United Nations Committee Against Torture

After the Irish Catholic newspaper repeatedly misrepresented Atheist Ireland and the Green Party this week, I decided to read a few other articles on its website.

I soon found an article published last week that misrepresents the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has criticised Ireland over our abortion law and the Magdalen Laundries.

In an article written by David Quinn, the Irish Catholic says that:

“Those committees are almost invariably made up of activists and radicals who interpret the various treaties and conventions in ways that suit them.

Take the aforementioned Convention Against Torture as an example. It defines torture as essentially any act which inflicts pain upon someone for the purposes of extracting information from them.

By this reckoning how is our law against abortion a form of ‘torture’? A law restricting abortion is not intended to inflict pain on anyone for the purposes of extracting information.

It is also hard to see how the regime that existed in the Magdalen Laundries falls under this heading. It would make much more sense for this to be dealt with by the UN Human Rights Committee.

Likewise it is hard to see how the child protection issue falls within the remit of the Committee Against Torture. The Committee on the Rights of the Child for sure, but not the Committee Against Torture.

So what we see is a form of mission creep taking place. UN committees are finding ways to exceed their remit.”

But there is no mission creep involved here. The Irish Catholic newspaper has simply misrepresented the United Nations Committee against Torture.

The Committee Against Torture is a body of ten independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.

Article 1 of the Convention defines torture, for the purposes of the Convention, using the language quoted in the Irish Catholic article.

But Article 16 of the Convention adds that:

“Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The Irish Catholic newspaper is mistaken. There is no mission creep involved in the Committee Against Torture criticising Ireland over our abortion law and the Magdalen Laundries.

The Irish Catholic should be pleased that Ireland is being held accountable for citizens being subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, rather than trying to undermine the UN Committee that is raising these breaches of human rights.

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1 Comment

  1. In this case Micheal as it is clearly published under a “comment and analysis” banner there is not case to answer for the paper itself as they are not portraying the article as factual.

    Having said that it is yet another failure by David Quinn whose ability to provide accurate analysis of the real world continues its downward trend.

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