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Civil Society and OPCAT Implementation in Brazil


Monday, December 22, 2008

Civil Society and OPCAT Implementation in BrazilAPT returned to Brazil from 13-17 December to take part in several activites, including participating in the 11th National Human Rights Conference. Activities in the country started with a one day seminar 'Preventing Torture in Brazil: the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture', held as part of the Annual General Assembly of the National Human Rights Movement. The seminar brought together 25 representatives of different human rights organizations from 17 states in Brazil. APT was also invited by the Human Rights Secretary of Brazil to participate in the meeting of the National Committee to Prevent and Combat Torture, currently finalising a draft bill of law which would implement OPCAT and create a National Preventive Mechanism, and was asked to review the project, offering its observations and comments, specifically on the issue of independence and the procedure for the appointment of members.

 

Date:
13 - 17 December 2008
Place:
Brasília, Brazil
Purpose:
To strengthen the collaboration with national civil partners organizations; to discuss and inform on the OPCAT with civil society actors coming from different states in Brazil, to discuss the national process currently being conducted for OPCAT implementation at national level and, particularly, to promote the establishment of preventive mechanisms at state level; to collaborate with the National Committee to Prevent and Combat Torture (Comitê Nacional para a Prevenção e Combate à Tortura – CNPCT) in their process to draft a NPM bill of law.
Partners:

National Human Rights Movement (Movimento Nacional dos Direitos Humanos – MNDH)

Human Rights Secretary of Brazil (Secretaria Especial dos Direitos Humanos da Presidência da República – SEDH)

Activities:
APT returned to Brazil to develop a series of activites, including participating in the 11th National Human Rights Conference. This visit followed an earlier mission conducted by APT to Brazil last September, when APT was invited to participate in a meeting of the CNPCT, a national inter-institutional body in charge of leading the process for implementation of OPCAT, and had the opportunity to meet with the national coordinator of the National Human Rights Movement (MNDH), a national coalition of over 400 civil society organizations.

APT's activity in the country started with a one day seminar 'Preventing Torture in Brazil: the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture', held as part of the Annual General Assembly of the MNDH. The seminar brought together 25 representatives of different human rights organizations from 17 states in Brazil. During the seminar, which combined presentations with debates and working groups activities, the group got to know OPCAT and the NPM bill of law project currently being drafted, discussed the methodology of systematic monitoring through preventive visits, and debated its implementation at local and state levels, particularly regarding building up preventive mechanisms and strategies and a road map towards implementation.

APT was also invited by the SEDH to participate in the monthly meeting of the CNPCT, which is currently in the process of finalizing a proposed draft bill of law, to be submitted to Congress, implementing OPCAT and creating a new multidisciplinary body to function as a National Preventive Mechanism (to be called Mecanismo de Prevenção e Combate à Tortura). APT was asked to review the project, offering its observations and comments, specifically on the issue of independence and the procedure for the appointment of its members, as the model that is being currently discussed is finding resistance within certain ministries being consulted.

The APT maintained an information booth at the 11th National Human Rights Conference, an annual conference that brings together over 1400 human rights advocates, both from civil society organizations as well as public insitutions, in order to discuss proposals of guidelines to direct the adoption of national policies on human rights issues. This presence, from Dec 15 – 17, functioned as a space to raise awareness regarding preventive monitoring and OPCAT, to inform on its ratification by Brazil and the draft NPM law currently open for public consultation, as well as the distribution of related APT publications.

APT in collaboration with SEDH held a parallel meeting within the 11th National Conference, with the objective of disseminating OPCAT and publicizing the draft NPM law currently under analysis. APT made a presentation on OPCAT, focusing on its national element, and Pedro Montenegro, from the CNPCT and SEDH, presented the main characteristics of the structure being built by the proposed bill of law and received commentaries and observations from participants.
Outcome:
  • The raising of awareness regarding OPCAT and its implementation in Brazil among relevant actors, both from public institutions and civil society, representing states from all five regions in Brazil;
  • Identification of initiatives at state levels for local establishment of an NPM under OPCAT to which APT could assist;
  • Contribution to the national process of creating a new NPM body through collaboration and technical orientation to the CNPCT;
  • Reinforcement of long standing partnerships with civil society organizations also working towards torture prevention.
Documents:

Agenda (Portuguese)

APT Paper: 'Civil Society and National Preventive Mechanisms' (Portuguese)

Contact Person:
Claudia Gerez, APT Americas Programme Officer
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