Outcomes and conclusions
During two intensive days of discussion among experts and practitioners, the Forum identified key ways in which the prevention of torture and the OPCAT system could be strengthened.
This section includes short summaries of the outcomes and conclusions from the Forum. The full report can be downloaded here.
Effective OPCAT campaigns and advocacy
Advocacy and campaigning has been key in ensuring progress with the OPCAT worldwide. The Global Forum identified key elements of a successful campaign. Ensuring political will to stop torture is a priority, and it is important to build broad coalitions to work on ratification, including government and parliamentarians. There are still many misunderstandings surrounding the OPCAT – campaigns need to dispel these.
A holistic approach to torture prevention
The Global Forum saw agreement that torture prevention requires a holistic and long-term approach that seeks to reduce the risks of torture occurring in the future. Because it relies on constructive dialogue with the authorities, there are particular risks in the face of lack of political will – a major problem in many regions and one that preventive actors must address strategically. Torture prevention also involves understanding and addressing the broader causes of torture. Integrating this into their daily work is a challenge for preventive bodies.
Including all stakeholders
To be effective, torture prevention requires an inclusive approach. This means not just engaging with wider spectrum of actors including judges, parliamentarians, medical doctors, staff working in places of detention and former persons deprived of liberty, but also ensuring that the issues of vulnerable groups are mainstreamed into preventive work. OPCAT actors need to visit all types of places where persons are deprived of their liberty.
There are two persisting challenges in ensuring the effective prevention of torture in practice: getting recommendations implemented and guaranteeing investment in torture prevention. Crucially, the Global Forum noted that the responsibility for recommendations and their implementations lays both with the issuing and receiving body. Key elements that increase the likelihood of implementation were identified. To ensure investment in torture prevention, more work needs to be done to show the economic, social and political costs of not preventing torture. In addition, better coordination and creativity can open doors for action without increased budgets.
Implications for the APT
Since the OPCAT Global Forum, the APT has redirected its work on the OPCAT, systematising its expertise on NPM developments and developing new advocacy arguments and strategies.
- Promoting OPCAT within the UN in New York: 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the OPCAT at the UN General Assembly. Together with the French Permanent Mission the APT organised a seminar at the UN in New York, “OPCAT + 10: From Pledges to Actions”. International and national practices on torture prevention were shared with the Permanent Missions, thanks to the inspiring speeches of the SPT Chairperson, Malcolm Evans, and the Head of the French NPM, Jean-Marie Delarue.
- SPT elections: The APT is committed to enable the SPT to function effectively, and has developed papers and guidance for States Parties on the elections taking place on 25 October 2012, which will enable States Parties to elect 12 candidates.
- Addressing the most pressing needs of NPMs: A new version of the OPCAT Database, with updated information and searchable keywords was launched in September 2012, together with short papers targeting specific issues related to NPM establishment and functioning. Following the requests made by NPMs during the Global Forum, APT is currently developing a self-assessment tool to help NPMs identify areas for improvement.