Word from the President

2018 has been a year of change and consolidation for the APT, both in the field of prevention and internally.

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Martine Brunschwig Graf Martine Brunschwig Graf
Martine Brunschwig Graf,
President

Secretary General’s picks

This report proposes an insight of APT’s achievements in 2018. Additional country-specific activities are available on the online version of the map. These are the results of our unique way of working, which has prevention at its hear.

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Torture prevention
in the world

  • AO
  • BE
  • CM
  • GN
  • GW
  • IS
  • IE
  • SL
  • SK
  • ZA
  • TL
  • VE
  • ZM
  • AF
  • AL
  • AR
  • AM
  • AU
  • AT
  • AZ
  • BZ
  • BJ
  • BO
  • BA
  • BR
  • BG
  • BF
  • BI
  • KH
  • CV
  • CF
  • CL
  • CD
  • CR
  • HR
  • CY
  • CZ
  • DK
  • EC
  • EE
  • FI
  • FR
  • GA
  • GE
  • DE
  • GH
  • GR
  • GT
  • HN
  • HU
  • IT
  • KZ
  • KG
  • LB
  • LR
  • LI
  • LT
  • LU
  • MK
  • MG
  • MV
  • ML
  • MT
  • MR
  • MU
  • MX
  • MD
  • MN
  • ME
  • MA
  • MZ
  • NL
  • NZ
  • NI
  • NE
  • NG
  • NO
  • PA
  • PY
  • PE
  • PH
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • RW
  • SN
  • RS
  • SI
  • SS
  • ES
  • LK
  • PS
  • SE
  • CH
  • TG
  • TN
  • TR
  • UA
  • GB
  • UY
  • AF
  • AL
  • AR
  • AM
  • AT
  • AZ
  • BO
  • BR
  • BG
  • BF
  • KH
  • CV
  • CL
  • CR
  • HR
  • CY
  • CZ
  • DK
  • EC
  • EE
  • FI
  • FR
  • GE
  • DE
  • GR
  • GT
  • HN
  • HU
  • IT
  • KZ
  • KG
  • LB
  • LI
  • LT
  • LU
  • MK
  • MV
  • ML
  • MT
  • MR
  • MU
  • MX
  • MD
  • ME
  • MA
  • MZ
  • NL
  • NZ
  • NI
  • NG
  • NO
  • PA
  • PY
  • PE
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • RW
  • SN
  • RS
  • SI
  • ES
  • SE
  • CH
  • TG
  • TN
  • TR
  • UA
  • GB
  • UY

States parties who have designated their NPM
(70, including 6 in 2018)
States parties who have yet to designate their NPM
States signatories
LPM: Local Preventive Mechanism
NPM: National Preventive Mechanism
OPCAT: Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture
Click on the red dots
to see what the APT was up to in 2018
APT Offices
APT National Representative
Countries where or with
which the APT has worked in 2018
  • Americas
  • Europe & Central Asia
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Asia-Pacific
Despite political changes undermining human rights in the region, the implementation of safeguards in the first hours of detention and the OPCAT made headway. Thanks to APT’s support, new NPMs started to function in Argentina and Panama, as well as new LPMs in the Brazilian states of Paraiba and Rondônia. NPMs also reinforced their monitoring of police custody. We further contributed to strengthening the role of others in preventing torture, such as judges in Brazil through custody hearings, or public defenders in Mexico.
Against a background of backsliding of democratic values in a wide part of the region, torture prevention stakeholders continued to protect the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, including in immigration detention. We supported them by encouraging strategic discussions among NPMs, NGOs and regional institutions, facilitating peer exchanges, and accompanying NPMs in their efforts to achieve change through monitoring (Kyrgyz Republic) and follow-up to recommendations (Georgia). We also inputted into the revision of key regional policies (EU Guidelines on Torture, European Prison Rules).
Africa, with 22 ratifications, has the second highest number of States parties. In 2018, three NPMs were designated. In Rwanda, a new NHRC law entered into force in September. In Togo, the law designating the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) as NPM was promulgated in June and the Parliament called for NHRI membership applications in September. In Cape Verde, the NHRI was designated as NPM by a Resolution adopted by the Cabinet in September. Therefore, the APT focus in the region was on the effective integration and implementation of the NPM mandate within NHRIs.
The MENA region counts five States parties. Two NPMs were designated in 2018 in both Morocco and Lebanon. We accompanied the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) to integrate its NPM mandate and supported the new Lebanese National Commission for Human Rights with its dual protection/prevention mandate. We also continued to advise the Mauritanian and Tunisian NPMs, including on dialogue around safeguards in detention. In Palestine, we assisted the NPM establishment process. At the regional level, we are building channels of cooperation with the Arab Human Rights Committee of the League of Arab States.
Positive developments in the region were seized by APT, such as first workshop by the ASEAN human rights committee on torture prevention, political change in Malaysia that sets a regional precedent on law reform, strengthening of national oversight and receptiveness to ratify human rights treaties; and regional cooperation of NHRIs. Challenges remain, however: legislative reforms to criminalise torture in Indonesia and Thailand continue to be prolonged due to other pressing national issues; and the 2018 OPCAT ratifications by Australia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan still require implementation.

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Word from the President

2018 has been a year of change and consolidation for the APT, both in the field of prevention and internally.

Mark Thomson, Secretary General of the APT until end of June 2018, took early retirement after 17 years as the head of the organisation. His influence, expertise and ability to advocate with strength and conviction for torture prevention have borne fruit. Many milestones have been set since the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against torture. The APT owes him a lot.

From the 1st of July 2018, Barbara Bernath, has started as Secretary General and is supported by a management team composed of Jean-Sébastien Blanc and Audrey Olivier Muralt. It is now important to define priorities for the future. This goes hand in hand with reflection and an evolution of APT’s internal organisation. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the colleagues from the staff who have demonstrated a precious capacity to adapt.

Another sign of our adaptation, the Regional Office based in Panama has finished the mission assigned to it in Latin America. Progress made thanks to networking and the creation of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) in the region enabled the APT to close the office.

If we look towards the future, there is so much more to do at a time when financial resources are not easy to obtain. Funding our activities will be a real challenge, in the coming years. We know it is possible only if we are able to convince others of the effectiveness of our efforts. The present annual report is a contribution to this effort. I wish you good reading.

Martine Brunschwig Graf
Martine Brunschwig Graf, President
Martine Brunschwig Graf
Secretary General’s picks

This report proposes an insight of APT’s achievements in 2018. Additional country-specific activities are available on the online version of the map. These are the results of our unique way of working, which has prevention at its heart.

  • Prevention is about reducing risks of torture and ill treatment. Our focus on addressing heightened risks during arrest, interrogation and police custody is bearing fruit. We support partners in the implementation of concrete safeguards in Madagascar, Thailand and Brazil. This in turn is useful for the development of a set of guidelines, aimed at moving away from coercive interrogations and towards “investigative interviewing”. National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) increasingly check whether safeguards are implemented in practice.

  • Prevention is about empowering our partners to implement concrete measures at the national level. In 2018, we strengthened our partnerships thanks to the signature of Memorandums of Understanding with ministries, with human rights commissions in Morocco and Rwanda, as well as with the International Ombudsman Institute.

  • Prevention is about dialogue. We used our convening power to enable different national actors to sit around the table and to discuss possible solutions. In Mexico, Georgia and Tunisia, NPMs and the authorities discussed the implementation of detention safeguards. In the OSCE region, NPMs and civil society organisations joined forces to prevent torture in the context of immigration detention. In Brazil, bringing together state policy institutions, oversight bodies and civil society organisations around the protection of LGBTI persons in detention led to a revision of the policy on management of LGBTI in prisons.

Prevention is not a solo race. It is a shared responsibility. We will continue to mobilise around prevention, to accompany our partners and to protect all persons deprived of their liberty, in particular the most vulnerable. But we need your support. Together, we can prevent torture.


Celebrating 40 years of torture prevention
40 Years of Torture Prevention: From a Local Initiative to a Global Reality

“Preventing torture in 2017” was the theme of the roundtable we organised in April at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur of Torture emphasised the dark reality of torture, stressing that “We cannot change history retroactively. Therefore, if we want to change history, we must do it in advance.” Positive impact of monitoring places of detention combined with State action was highlighted by Catherine Paulet, French prison psychiatrist and international detention monitor, who shared concrete examples of improvements in conditions of detention she had witnessed over the past 10 years.

At a time of “collective amnesia” and official narratives trivialising and even justifying torture in the name of security and the fight against terrorism, the key message from all panellists was the crucial necessity to unite efforts and resources to put an end to this abhorrent practice. APT’s role as a convening force was recognised by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, who also encouraged us, as a strategic partner, to keep on being a driver of innovation and an example of persistence and efficiency.

In September, we also organised a cultural and fundraising event in the gardens of the Jean-Jacques Gautier Centre. Ten artists contributed to the success of the evening with their talent, music, paintings, and cartoons and revived the community of “Artists against torture,” created 25 years ago. We thank them as well as the national and international authorities, partners and close friends of the APT who, with their presence and despite the cold weather, expressed their support to torture prevention and to our work.

Financial information


Celebrating impact for 40 years