The fight against torture is one of the long-standing policy priorities of the European Union (EU).
On 26 June 2018, on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini issued a statement in support of the victims of torture. The EU reiterated its call for a broad ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol and welcomed its recent ratification by Afghanistan, Australia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Palestine.
The European Union and China held their 36th annual Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on 9-10 July 2018 in which “The European Union emphasised the deteriorating situation of civil and political rights in China, which has been accompanied by the detention and conviction of a significant number of Chinese human rights defenders. This year’s Human Rights Dialogue was held on the third anniversary of the arrest and detention of more than 300 human rights lawyers and defenders beginning on 9 July 2015”, according to a statement from the EU on 10 July 2018. In the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, the EU specifically raised the case of Liu Xia, widow of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, Gui Minhai and Wang Quanzhang, who has been detained without having been charged for more than three years and denied contacts with his family and lawyer. The EU also sought the release of the (1) Human rights defenders Yu Wensheng, Wu Gan, Jiang Tianyong, Zhou Shifeng, Xia Lin and Gao Zhisheng; (2) Uighurs detained in violation of their fundamental human rights, including Ilham Tohti, Eli Mamut, Hailaite Niyazi, Memetjan Abdulla, Abduhelil Zunun and Abdukerim Abduweli; (3) Individuals imprisoned in connection with their exercise of the universally recognised right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including Guo Feixiong, Tang Jingling, and Huang Qi; (4) Individuals persecuted for their religious beliefs, including Zhang Shaojie, Hu Shigen, Li Yaping, and Sun Qian; (5) Individuals imprisoned in connection with their exercise of the universally recognised right to freedom of expression, including Su Changlan, Zhen Jianghua, Lu Gengsong, Zhang Haitao, Lu Yuyu, Huang Zerong, and Lee Ming Che and (6) Tibetan activists, writers and religious figures who face criminal charges or have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including Tashi Wangchuk, and Tashi Dorje.
On 26 July 2018, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that at their respective plenary meetings of June and July 2018, the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) decided to strengthen cooperation to fight torture. Within their respective legal frameworks, both torture prevention bodies decided to improve the flow of information between them, to consult each other in future ahead of visits as well as on the potential benefits to be gained by the SPT carrying out visits in Europe. They will also consider, as appropriate, joint participation in follow-up activities. The SPT also decided to place particular emphasis on the work of national preventive mechanisms (NPMs) of the Council of Europe member States and to pay special attention to the potential for complementary and strengthening activities in those countries where there have been serious failures of co-operation with the CPT.
. Declaration by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June 2018, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/06/25/declaration-by-the-high-representative-federica-mogherini-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-occasion-of-the-international-day-in-support-of-victims-of-torture-26-june-2018/