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Torture Prevention in Togo


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two activities took place in Togo from 20 - 24 October 2008: a Seminar for Parliamentarians and advocacy and awareness raising for the ratification and the implementation of the OPCAT.

Date:
20 - 24 October 2008
Place:
Togo
Partners:

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

OHCHR - Togo

Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights

Purpose:
  • The prevention of torture in Togo through the ratification of the OPCAT and its effective implementation.
  • Strengthening the role and capacities of parliamentarians in the prevention of torture.
  • Meeting with relevant actors to advocate for the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT.
  • To provide expertise to facilitate a seminar on the role of parliamentarians in the implementation of human rights treaties and treaty bodies recommendations including the Committee against Torture (CAT).
Activities:

1. Seminar for Parliamentarians (22 - 23 October 2008)

Background
In February 2008, the APT participated in a workshop for parliamentarians organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Lomé, Togo. This workshop was in the framework of a global IPU project on the role of parliaments in the implementation of international and regional instruments. The main goal of the workshop was to 'Enhance the Participation of Togolese Parliamentarians in the Work of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies'.

The workshop came up with a national strategy with four key components namely: ratification of regional and international treaties, legislative reform, control of government and participation of parliamentarians in the work of treaty bodies. A Follow-up Committee was established, comprised of three parliamentarians, a representative of the National Human Rights Commission and a representative of the Civil Society Organizations. It was also agreed that a follow-up workshop would be organized in October 2008, to assess the implementation of short term objectives of the national strategy and to discuss the way forward towards the implementation of mid-term and long-term objectives. It is in this context that the APT was again invited to Togo to participate in and facilitate the October seminar.

 

Development of the Seminar
The APT made a key-note presentation on the reporting to the Treaty Bodies and on the role of parliamentarians in such a process.

The Chairperson of the Follow-up Committee established in February 2008 presented its report on the implementation of short term objectives. The presentation, which was followed by lively discussions, showed that the Committee faced three kind of challenges namely lack of financial resources, administrative problems and lack of clarity on the legal nature of the Committee.

Participants discussed possible solutions to overcome problems and to facilitate the future work of the Committee and the implementation of the national strategy in general. The workshop adopted recommendations to guide the future work of the Follow-up Committee and to overcome the challenges facing the implementation of long-term objectives of the national strategy.

 

2. Advocacy and awareness raising for the ratification and the implementation of the OPCAT

Bilateral advocacy meetings
The APT met with a range of national actors including the President of the Parliament, the Chairperson and some members of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Senior Officials from the Ministries of Justice and of Human Rights as well as civil society organisations in order to raise awareness of OPCAT and to advocate for its ratification and implementation. All interlocutors were positive on the ratification of the OPCAT. The APT was informed that a draft law on the ratification of the OPCAT was submitted to the Parliament in August and is currently under consideration by the respective Parliamentary Committees on Human Rights and on Foreign Affairs.

OPCAT roundtable discussion
The APT jointly with the OHCHR-Togo convened a round table discussion on torture prevention with the objectives of familiarising participants with the OPCAT and briefing them on the potential benefits and implications of a ratification by Togo. Approximately 40 participants attended the meeting including representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Ministries of Justice and of Human Rights, Police, Prison Services, Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

Outcome:
The Parliamentarians seminar adopted recommendations as a way forward towards the strengthening of the role of parliamentarians in treaty bodies' recommendations including those of the Committee against Torture (CAT).

National actors are better informed on the OPCAT and the benefits and implications of a ratification by Togo.
Next Steps:

The APT will:

  • enhance its cooperation with the IPU on its project on the role of parliamentarians in torture prevention.
  • continue to support the OPCAT ratification process in Togo and provide expertise and technical assistance towards its effective implementation.
  • enhance its cooperation with the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights by providing advice and technical support.
Contact Person:
Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero, APT Africa Programme Officer

 

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