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APT Global Forum on the OPCAT


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

300 representatives from over 90 countries have gathered in Geneva, for the first Global Forum on the prevention of torture. Five years after the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the use of security concerns to justify torture, including by the most democratic countries, has been at the centre of concerns. This first networking event has allowed protagonists to share good practices and identify ways forward: to continue the campaign of OPCAT ratification as well as ensure implementation on the ground by increasing the effectiveness of national monitoring bodies, and to include new actors in the process. 

Press Release

The first Global Forum on the prevention of torture
APT – Geneva – 10 & 11 November 2011


Geneva, 11 November 2011 – 300 representatives from over 90 countries have gathered in Geneva, for the first Global Forum on the prevention of torture. Five years after the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), the use of security concerns to justify torture, including by the most democratic countries, has been at the centre of concerns. This first networking event has allowed protagonists to share good practices and identify ways forward: to continue the campaign of OPCAT ratification as well as ensure implementation on the ground by increasing the effectiveness of national monitoring bodies, and to include new actors in the process.

"Torture is not the monopoly of rogue states" recalled Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the Francophonie at the opening of the Forum. We observe a kind of State’ schizophrenia torn between the principle of dignity of persons and the security of the country, for example in the context of the so-called “war on terror” and the means used to obtain confessions. The risks exist everywhere, including within our own countries. Overcrowding in prisons and lack of staff inevitably lead to abuses. What is at stake goes beyond prisons and equally concerns migrant or juvenile detention centres, as well as psychiatric institutions.

“In this sense, the States Parties to the Protocol commit themselves to establish independent mechanisms at the international and national levels (NPMs), which conduct regular visits to all places of detention”, explains Mark Thomson, Secretary General of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the organisation behind the Forum and the Protocol. “Our approach is innovative because the Protocol emphasises reducing the risks of torture, and not only the follow-up of complaints of victims.”

Although today 61 States have ratified the OPCAT, and 22 have signed it, participants to the Forum noted that despite successes obtained, numerous challenges remain. Reinforced in their mobilisation and determination by this timely networking event, participants will make sure to:
-    not only continue the ratification campaign, but also ensure the political will of States Parties to implementation, and reinforce the awareness of parliamentarians and the judiciary;
-    improve the effectiveness of national and international oversight mechanisms required by the Protocol, through guaranteeing their independence from authorities, conducting more thorough analysis and in collaboration with victims and other vulnerable groups.
-    involve new actors in achieving prevention, such as the media, public opinion, trade unions, medical doctors, as well as national and international financial institutions to invest more in torture prevention.

Based in Geneva and active since 1977, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) is behind the Optional Protocol and this Forum. It plays a central role in prevention of torture globally, by supporting States to establish effective legal frameworks and systems of monitoring places of detention.



 

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