Home Resources News on prevention European Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute

European Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The APT was invited to participate in the 2010 European Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute. One of the themes for discussions between these European National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) was the Optional Protocol to the UN convention against Torture (OPCAT) and the role of NHRIs in the implementation of OPCAT. This is a particularly important topic as many European NHRIs have been designated as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the OPCAT.

Date: 4 - 6 October 2010
Place: Barcelona, Spain
Purpose: The APT was invited to participate in the 2010 European Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute. One of the themes for discussions between these European National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) was the Optional Protocol to the UN convention against Torture (OPCAT) and the role of NHRIs in the implementation of OPCAT. This is a particularly important topic as many European NHRIs have been designated as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the OPCAT.

The APT also took this opportunity to have a one day exchange with the 'Catalan authority for the prevention of torture', a preventive monitoring unit which has been established within Catalonia’s ombudsman, the 'Síndic de Greuges'.
Activities: The International Ombudsman Institute – European Region (IOI), held its 2010 Conference in Barcelona, Spain, from 3rd to 5th October 2010. It gathered most of the NHRIs from the Europe region, and amongst other topics of relevance, the OPCAT was given prominence in the programme. A 2 hour discussion and exchange was held on the morning of Tuesday 5 October, with inputs from a representative from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Chairperson of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, as well as two representatives from APT, including Chief of Operations Barbara Bernath. Prior to the Conference, the APT has helped in preparing a survey for all IOI members on OPCAT in their countries and the role that each Ombudsman was playing with regards to OPCAT implementation. The preliminary results of the survey were discussed during the session on OPCAT.

Catalonia’s Ombudsman, 'Síndic de Greuges' was responsible for organising the 2010 Conference of the European Charter of the IOI. The APT took the opportunity to hold a one day exchange with the Síndic’s torture prevention body, the Catalan authority for the prevention of torture, which has been established by law in December 2009. On this occasion, the APT was able to share its experience related to the establishment of new NPMs in different regions of the world, including Europe. The Síndic staff provided information on the mandate of this new body (the Catalan authority) and the process to define a strategic plan, as well as internal division of tasks and coordination between the Catalan authority and the rest of the Ombudsman team.
Outcome: As stated above, the European region is characterised by a high level of OPCAT ratifications, and a majority of States have opted to designate Ombusman offices as NPMs. This poses a number of challenges and forums for exchange and discussion between European NPMs are scarce, outside the Council of Europe’s “European NPM project”. This was a rare opportunity for Ombudsmen designated as NPM to exchange and discuss with other Ombudsmen from the European region. Rafael Ribó, the Catalan Ombudsman, who chaired the conference, emphasized how surprised he was that the thematic discussion on OPCAT had raised so much interest and proposed that more time be dedicated to the subject during the next Conference of the IOI European Charter.

The Catalan authority for the prevention of torture is a new body, established by virtue of a law adopted by the Catalan Parliament in December 2009. This monitoring body seeks inspiration from the OPCAT and intends to visit places of deprivation of liberty in accordance with OPCAT standards. The one day exchange with this body was therefore an interesting opportunity for the APT to share its experience and expertise in the establishment of NPMs worldwide, as well as getting to know more on a local preventive body established in accordance with OPCAT requirements.
Contact Persons: Barbara Bernath, APT Chief of Operations
Vincent Ploton, APT Institutional Officer
Latest tweet