Home Resources News on prevention Monitoring human rights in places of detention in the Middle East and North Africa

Monitoring human rights in places of detention in the Middle East and North Africa


Friday, August 31, 2007

Amman, Jordan, 3-6 September 2007Independent monitoring of places of detention is a relatively new approach to the prevention of torture in the Middle East and North Africa. However, authorities in different states of the MENA region have recently started to allow for independent observers to monitor the respect for human rights inside their prisons and police stations. In other states, NGOs, lawyers and human rights institutions are stepping up their efforts to obtain access to prisons.

A seminar held in Amman from 3-6 September brought together organizations involved in detention monitoring, many meeting for the first time. For the international experts, the seminar was a unique opportunity to gain an overview of detention monitoring activities in the region.

Date: 3-6 September 2007
Place:
Amman, Jordan
Partners:

RCT

Jordanian National Centre for Human Rights

Mizan Law Group for Human Rights  

Purpose: 

To enhance knowledge and experiences about existing systems and practices of monitoring of places of detention.

To identify strategies to strengthen the effectiveness of detention monitoring in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

To develop recommendations on monitoring human rights in places of detention in the MENA region.

To promote the ratification and effective implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture in the MENA region. 

Activities: The APT jointly with the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), the Jordanian National Centre for Human Right and the Law Group for Human Rights (Mizan) from Jordan organized a seminar of three and a half days in Amman.

Amongst the invited were organizations conducting independent visits to places of detention on a domestic level in the region, including human rights NGOs, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, law firms and ministries of human rights. Thirty seven participants from Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen attended the seminar. Resource persons came from the organizing institutions and from the ICRC, the OHCHR and Amnesty International and included Hans Draminsky Peterson (SPT member), Manfred Nowak (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture) and Krassimir Kanev (Bulgarian Helsinki Committee).

The seminar sessions were dedicated to the following topics:
  • Gaining access to places of detention
  • Conducting detention monitoring visits
  • Bringing about change
  • The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture
  • Abusing the concept of detention monitoring, for example in the context of extraordinary renditions

The seminar included a 'mini-training visit' to the new Mowaqar prison.
Outcome: 
  • Participants were able to exchange experience across countries and types of institutions on key issues related to detention monitoring, including very practical issues related to its methodology.
  • Each participant drafted a fact sheet about the detention monitoring conducted by his or her institution. The fact sheets will be published in the subsequent report and CD Rom.
  • Participants were able to draw lessons from the experiences of international bodies such as the SRT and the ICRC and from experiences made on the national level in other parts of the world (for example Bulgaria).
  • Twelve working groups established recommendations on how to strengthen the effectiveness of detention monitoring and improve the protection against torture, which will be published in the seminar report.
  • The seminar participants issued a declaration calling for increased independent monitoring of human rights in places of detention.
  • The participants created a network of organizations involved in detention monitoring in the MENA region.
Follow-up: The organizers will draft a seminar report in Arabic and English, including:
  • Seminar proceedings
  • Recommendations and lessons
  • Mapping of detention monitoring in the MENA region
  • Final declaration
Documents: 

Seminar Programme: English

Background Paper: Arabic, English

Seminar Proceedings

Contact Person: Esther Schaufelberger, APT Middle East & North Africa Programme Officer
Click for a larger image...

 

 

Latest tweet