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Deprivation of Liberty and Human Rights - The prevention of torture in Europe


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Paris, 18 January 2008In association with the French National Consultative Commission of Human Rights and the National Bar Council of France, the Ombudsman of the French Republic and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights hosted a one-day meeting focussing on the deprivation of liberty and respect for human rights in Paris on 18 January.

The central focus of this discussion was the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). This issue was examined by a wide range of European and international human rights actors, including representatives from various European Ombudspersons Offices as well as Council of Europe and United Nations institutions.

The APT has just published 'National Human Rights Commissions and Ombudspersons' Offices / Ombudsmen as National Preventive Mechanisms' available in English, French and Spanish.

Date: 18 January 2008
Place:
Paris, France
Partners:

Ombudsman of the French Republic (Le Médiateur de la République)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights  

Purpose: In association with the French National Consultative Commission of Human Rights and the National Bar Council of France, the Ombudsman of the French Republic and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights hosted a one-day meeting focussing on the deprivation of liberty and respect for human rights in Paris on 18 January 2008. 
Activities: 

The central focus of this discussion was the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). This issue was examined by a wide range of European and international human rights actors from around 30 countries, including representatives from various European Ombudspersons Offices as well as Council of Europe and United Nations institutions. These included the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, the Vice-President of the international UN Subcommittee on Prevention, Hans Draminsky Petersen, and the President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Mauro Parma.

The APT Secretary General, Mark Thomson, also delivered a presentation during the meeting, addressing, amongst other matters, the challenges facing European Ombudspersons' Offices designated to function as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the OPCAT. In doing so, he referred to the APT's new publication, 'National Human Rights Commissions and Ombudspersons' Offices / Ombudsmen as National Preventive Mechanisms'.

The overall meeting examined an array of other pertinent issues relating to the OPCAT and, in particular, during the afternoon of the event a comparative analysis took place of various Ombudspersons Offices including their role as NPMs. These includedrepresentatives from countries such as Austria, Estonia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain.

This meeting was unique in that it was the first time such a large collection of Ombudspersons Offices met to examine their potential role as NPMs in relation to the OPCAT.

Outcome: 

As a result of the exchange, there will have been an enhanced awareness and understanding on the part of Ombudspersons Offices in the Council of Europe region of their potential role as NPMs under the OPCAT as well as of the various challenges related to this important task.

At the close of the event the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, stated that the Council of Europe would welcome proposals for a follow-up event on the issue. He also noted that a report of the main discussion points of the meeting would be made available within three weeks. 

Documents: 

Presentation of Mark Thomson, APT Secretary General 

Agendas of the event are available in English and French

National Human Rights Commissions and Ombudspersons' Offices / Ombudsmen as National Preventive Mechanisms (APT, January 2008) English  Français  Español

Update 18 February 2008: 'Viewpoint' of Thomas Hammarberg (Council of Europe website link).

Contact Person: Matthew Pringle, Europe & Central Asia Programme Officer
Paris, 18 January 2008

This photo courtesy of Council of Europe

Mark Thomson, APT Secretary General 

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