Argentina urged to select independent and qualified NPM members
On 1 and 2 June, APT visited Argentina to promote the prompt selection of the members of the future National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), in order for it to be operational this year. Meeting with all actors involved in the selection process, APT seized every opportunity to stress the importance of selecting independent and capable candidates, and avoid the politicisation of the process, as recommended during Argentina’s review by the Committee against Torture.
Despite being the first State in Latin America to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2004, Argentina didn’t adopt the law establishing the National System to Prevent Torture before late 2012. Moreover, although the Decree regulating the establishment of the National System was issued in April 2014, it is not yet operational, and the selection process of the members of the institution designed to fulfil the NPM mandate – the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT) – is still pending.
The NCPT members will be appointed by the National Congress after a selection process led by its Bicameral Commission for the Ombudsperson’s Office. The NCPT will be composed of 13 members:
- six parliamentary representatives;
- the Ombudsperson for Federal Prisons;
- two representatives from the Local Preventive Mechanisms (LPMs);
- three representatives from civil society organisations; and
- one representative from the Human Rights Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
The NCPT selection process is already well under way, as the National System legislation allows it to start working with only seven members. With the Ombudsperson for Federal Prisons and the two LPMs representatives already designated, the NCPT could be up and running as soon as the representatives from the civil society and the Human Rights Secretariat are appointed.
In a hearing with the Bicameral Commission, which should hear the civil society candidates on 29 June, APT encouraged its members to consider key criteria when conducting the selection process. These include expertise and experience, independence, gender balance and the adequate representation of ethnic and minority groups, knowledge of monitoring places of detention, as well as ability to work in a team as the NPM will be a collegial body.
These criteria are not only inspired by the OPCAT and the NPM bill, but also by Argentina’s experience and discussions with existing LPMs and the Ombudsperson for Federal Prisons. “If the process moves forward, as all our interlocutors seem committed to, Argentina could have a running NPM this year. This would be a major progress,” said Mark Thomson, APT’s Secretary General, “We hope that Argentina completes the selection process before its next Universal Periodic Review in November 2017.”