The Torture Reporting Handbook
  Handbook links... website home page  
 Table of Contents - Search - Part I: Preliminary Matters - Part II: Documenting Allegations - Part III: Responding to the Information Collected - Appendices


Admissibility The stage of an individual complaint procedure at which the judicial or quasi-judicial body decides if the right conditions are present for it to be able to examine a complaint. If a complaint is inadmissible, it cannot be examined any further.
Allegation (of torture) A claim (as yet neither proved nor disproved) that an incident of torture has occurred.
Amicus curiae brief A submission by a non-party to judicial proceedings which is designed to inform the judicial body about a specific matter relating to the proceedings.
Applicant Person making an application under an individual complaint procedure.
Application Letter or other form of submission asking a judicial body to consider a case under an individual complaint procedure.
Asylum Asylum is sought by individuals who do not wish to return to a country, usually their own, where they are at risk. If granted, it means being allowed to remain in a country which is not their own. It may be temporary or permanent.
Breach (of obligations) See VIOLATION
Charter See TREATY
Communication Letter or other form of submission transmitting information to an international body. The term is often used within the UN to refer to applications under an individual complaint procedure. The person who writes a communication is often referred to as the author of the communication.
Competence See JURISDICTION (of a judicial body)
Complainant Person making a complaint under an individual complaint procedure.
Consultative status NGOs can apply to the UN for consultative status - this means that they are officially registered as an organisation which the UN can consult. NGOs with consultative status have certain privileges over other NGOs, such as being allowed to attend sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Convention See TREATY
Corroboration Evidence which supports or confirms the truth of an allegation.
Court judgment Legally-binding decision in which a court expresses its conclusions in a case.
Covenant See TREATY
Declaration International law document which is not legally-binding, but sets out standards which states undertake to respect.
Deportation Expulsion from a country.
Domestic law or legal system National law or legal system; law or legal system which is specific to a particular country.
Enforcement (of obligations) Making the obligations effective; ensuring that they are respected.
Entry into force (of a treaty) The moment at which treaty obligations begin to apply.
Extra-judicial (e.g. execution) Not imposed by a judge or following a legal process.
Fact-finding Carrying out an investigation to discover the facts.
Gross violations of human rights Particularly serious violations of human rights, such as torture or extra-judicial killing.
Implementation (of obligations) The way in which obligations are carried out or respected, or measures aimed at achieving this.
Impunity Being able to avoid punishment for illegal or undesirable behaviour.
Incommunicado detention Being held by the authorities without being allowed any contact with the outside world, and/or without the detention being acknowledged.
Individual complaint A complaint relating to a specific set of facts affecting an individual or individuals.
Instrument A general term to refer to international law documents, whether legally binding or not.
Inter-governmental body A body or organisation composed of the governmental representatives of more than one country.
Judicial procedure A procedure before a judicial body.
Jurisdiction (of a state) Area or persons over which a state exercises its authority.
Jurisdiction (of a judicial body) Matters which fall within the jurisdiction of a judicial or quasi-judicial body are those which it is has the power to examine. This may also be referred to as being competent to examine a matter.
Leave (e.g. seeking leave to submit an amicus curiae brief) Permission.
Legally-binding If something is legally-binding on a state, this means that the state is obliged to act in accordance with it, and there may be legal consequences if it does not do so. e.g. the state can be brought before an international court and ordered to pay compensation to a victim.
Litigation The process of bringing and conducting a case before a court.
Lodging a complaint Registering a complaint.
Mandate The source of the powers of a mechanism - the document which explains what the mechanism is authorised to do.
Merits The stage of an individual complaint procedure at which the judicial body examines the facts of a case and decides if a violation has occurred.
Monitoring Seeking and receiving information for the purpose of reporting on a subject or situation.
Non-governmental actors Private persons acting independently of the authorities.
Observations Comments, assessment.
Perpetrator The person who has carried out an act.
Petition Request for action, e.g. request for a matter to be investigated.
Provisional measures Temporary measures which can be requested by a judicial or quasi-judicial body before having completed its consideration of a case, in order to avoid irreparable damage.
Quasi-judicial procedure A procedure before a body which considers cases in a similar way to a judicial body, but which is not composed of judges and the decisions of which are not legally-binding.
Ratification The process through which a state agrees to be bound by a treaty.
Recommendation A suggested course of action. Recommendations are not legally-binding.
Reparation Measures to repair damage caused.
Reservation At the time of agreeing to be bound by a treaty, a state can register a reservation: a statement which modifies its obligations under the treaty in some way.
Resolution Official decision of an international body, often adopted through a vote. It is usually a recommendation and therefore not legally binding.
Rules of procedure The detailed rules which a judicial or quasi-judicial body adopts, setting out the way in which proceedings before it should be carried out.
Sanction A penalty imposed for a state's failure to respect its legal obligations.
State responsibility Holding a state accountable under international law.
State Party (to a treaty) State which has agreed to be bound a treaty.
Supervisory body A body set up to supervise the ways in which states implement their obligations under a treaty.
Third party intervention See AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF
Transmission (of an allegation) Sending the allegation, e.g. to the state concerned.
Treaty International law document which sets out legally-binding obligations for states.
Treaty article The term used to refer to individual sections of a treaty.
Treaty body A body set up by a treaty.
Violation (of obligations) Failure by a state to respect its obligations under international law.


  top of page  
  Handbook links... website home page  
 Table of Contents - Search - Part I: Preliminary Matters - Part II: Documenting Allegations - Part III: Responding to the Information Collected - Appendices
  copyright information