African anti-torture committee defines its priorities
Better performance and more visibility were among the priorities identified when the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) met in early March to assess its achievements and shortcomings, and to draw a new operational plan for 2014 - 2015.
During its 54th ordinary session, in October 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights appointed Commissioner Lawrence Mute from Kenya as the new Chairperson of the CPTA. The Commission also renewed the term of Jean Baptiste Niyizurugero, APT’s Africa programme officer, as Vice-chairperson.
On 5-6 March 2014, the new Chairperson convened a meeting in Banjul, the Gambia, with all members of the African anti-torture mechanism to review the CPTA’s strategic direction and assess its achievements and shortcomings. To better respond to the needs of relevant stakeholders and to support the effective implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines and other anti-torture standards, the participants identified the following priority areas for the CPTA:
- raising public awareness on the Robben Island Guidelines and on the prohibition and prevention of torture;
- advocating for the effective implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines at national level;
- strengthening capacities of relevant actors for the effective implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines and providing advice and technical support to African States and other relevant actors on the effective prohibition and prevention of torture.
The Committee decided to focus more on issuing authoritative views on specific provisions of the Robben Island Guidelines and other anti-torture issues. It will also undertake more focused country missions with specific objectives tailored to particular country needs or priorities, rather than generic promotional visits.
With this new vision, the Committee developed an operational plan for 2014 – 2015. It is hoped that the implementation of this plan, under the leadership of the new Chairperson, will add impetus to the efforts of the CPTA and help create synergies among the various actors involved in the prevention of torture in Africa. For this new dynamic to happen, governments, civil society organisations and National Human Rights Institutions need to actively support the work of the CPTA. Above all, the African Commission needs to allocate adequate resources for the CPTA to effectively implement its mandate.