Reporting Mechanism - Committee against Torture
last updated 7 June 2013 – Information is subject to change. Please check the Committee website for updates.
Type of Mechanism
Reporting and Monitoring
Scope of the Procedure
How the Reporting Procedure Works[1]
After ratifying the Convention, State parties are required to submit an initial report on compliance within one year. Thereafter, State parties are required to submit periodic reports every four years. In 2007, the Committee adopted an optional reporting procedure, which allows State parties to focus reports on a list of issues developed and transmitted to the State parties prior to submission of their reports.
The Committee currently meets twice a year (May and November) to examine initial and periodic reports and engage in constructive dialogue with State parties.  A country will not be reviewed until it has submitted a report. 
At the conclusion of the session, the Committee meets privately to discuss and adopt concluding observations and recommendations. In 2003, the Committee adopted a new follow-up procedure, which consists of identifying a limited number of serious issues that the Committee expects State parties to address within one year. Under this procedure, State parties are requested to provide to the Committee written documentation of the measures taken to address the Committee’s follow-up recommendations.
Role of Advocates[2]
Advocates are encouraged to provide country-specific information to the Committee and working group which draws the Committee’s attention to issues of concern, advocate for concluding observations and recommendations that address those issues, place pressure on State parties to take action consistent with the Committee’s recommendations, and inform the Committee where a State party has failed to take action. There are many opportunities for advocates to participate in the reporting and monitoring process. NGOs are encouraged to submit "shadow" or alternative reports to the Committee to provide at alternate view of the state’s fulfillment of its obligations under the Covenant or to bring attention to human rights violations not reflected in the state’s report. NGOs are encouraged submit information early in the process to inform the development of the list of issues and questions, which tend to be the focus of constructive dialogue in the session.
Advocates also have an opportunity to participate in the sessions and to lobby Committee members outside of session proceedings. NGOs that have submitted written reports in advance of the session are invited to give oral presentations to Committee during the session. NGOs may also participate as observers during the session. NGOs wishing to participate in the session must contact the Committee secretariat in advance to attain the appropriate credentials.
After the Committee has adopted its concluding observations, NGOs are encouraged to monitor and provide reports on any steps taken or not taken by the Government in response to the Committee’s recommendations. The Committee also encourages NGOs to raise awareness—locally and nationally—of the Committee’s concluding observations.
Additional information on NGO participation in the reporting process is available on the Committee’s website. Working with the UN Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society (2008) also provides a comprehensive guide to engaging with the UN human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Articles of the Convention Concerning Violence Against Women[3]
Article 1 defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person . . . for any reason based on discrimination of any kind . . . .” The Committee views violence against women, including sexual violence and trafficking, as gender-based acts of torture within the scope of the Convention. The Convention enumerates the measures the State party must take to prevent (art. 2), investigate (art. 12), and otherwise address acts of torture, including ensuring that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law (art. 4), and that victims obtain redress, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation (art. 14). NGOs are encouraged to report on a State party’s failure to enact or give effect to laws which prevent and punish acts of violence against women and provide redress to victims.
Submitting a Report
There is no single format for shadow reports. They may be comprehensive, covering each article in the Covenant, or thematic, addressing only a particular issue of concern, but should analyze particular problems rather than merely describe them. 
NGOs are encouraged to collaborate with other NGOs and consolidate reports whenever possible to show broad consensus amongst numerous groups. Reports may be submitted to the Committee for consideration in development of the list of issues or in advance of the session. For consideration in development of the list of issues, reports must be received by the Committee secretariat no later than two months before the opening of the session at which they will be adopted. For consideration in the examination of the State party’s report, NGO reports must be received no later than two weeks before the start of the session. Reports must be submitted electronically. NGOs wishing to distribute hard copies to the Committee members should send 15 copies to the secretariat.
The Committee’s website provides guidance for NGOs. Additional information on writing and strategically using shadow reports, as well as sample NGO reports, can be found in the Human Rights Investigation and Documentation section of this website.
Where to Send Communications
The Committee against Torture
CH-1211 Geneva 10,Switzerland
Tel: + 41 22 917 99 06
Fax: + 41 22 917 90 08
Advantages/ Disadvantages
Periodic State reporting has put pressure on national governments to amend legislation and policies to bring them into compliance with the Convention and NGOs have used shadow reports effectively to advocate for change.   There are no enforcement mechanisms applicable to States that do not submit periodic reports.

[1] Committee against Torture – Working Methods,
[2] Committee against Torture, Participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to the reporting process ot the Committee against Torture,
[3] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984, entry into force 26 June 1987, accessed at