Latin America Regional Forum 2014
The APT organised the first Regional Forum on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in Latin America, in Panama from 30 September to 2 October 2014.
The Forum brought together representatives from States, National and Local Preventive Mechanisms and other national, regional and international torture prevention actors, to strengthen the role of these detention monitoring bodies and increase cooperation among those actors around common challenges in the region.
Challenges to effective prevention
Over the past few years, Latin America has made important advances in the prevention of torture. So far, 14 States have ratified the OPCAT, and most of them have created their National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to monitor places of deprivation of liberty.
There are, however, many challenges to effective prevention and to the creation of independent mechanisms. Often NPMs lack the resources they need to carry out their mandate and in many cases, States fall short of implementing their recommendations. In a region where torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty is an everyday reality, NPMs are struggling to draw States’ attention to prison overcrowding, pre-trial detention, corruption, flaws within the justice system and other factors that increase the risk of torture and ill-treatment.
By organising this first Regional Forum, APT wanted to strengthen the role of torture prevention mechanisms and advance the implementation of the OPCAT in Latin America.
The first day of the Regional Forum, Tuesday 30 September, focused on identifying key elements for effective NPMs, including their independence, legal basis and member selection processes. One of the workshops took a closer look at the NPM mandate in relation to persons in situations of vulnerability in detention.
Video from the opening session, including keynote speaker Elizabeth Odio Benito, are available here.
On Wednesday 1 October participants discussed how to improve the follow-up and impact of NPM and SPT recommendations. A panel debated the risk of reprisals against those who cooperate with torture prevention bodies. Participants also split up in national working groups, for each of the 14 countries.
Thursday 2 October was dedicated to a working meeting between National and Local Preventive Mechanisms, the UN Subcommittee on Torture (SPT) and the APT to discuss future strategies and cooperation in the region.
The APT appreciates Germany’s support of the Latin America Regional Forum 2014.