Guidelines on torture prevention in South Asia in sight

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

In an important step for human rights and torture prevention in the Asia-Pacific region, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) recently presented a second draft of proposed guidelines on torture prevention at a working group of the South East Asian National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) in Dili, Timor-Leste. 

Since early 2018, the APT has been providing technical support and facilitating the development of the regional guidelines in response to SEANF's desire to strengthen its action on torture prevention. The SEANF is a regional organisation comprised of six independent National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Timor-Leste. 

By consolidating available information on torture prevention, addressing common challenges faced by the NHRIs and laying out best practices, the guidelines aim to amplify action action torture in the South East Asia region, said Shazeera Zawawi, the APT's Asia-Pacific Programme Officer. 

"Although they are working in very different contexts, the NHRIs are facing similar challenges in their work," Zawawi continued. "These guidelines intend to lay a solid foundation for NHRIs to build upon, support them to address their challenge and foster international collaboration towards effective torture prevention in the region." 

Next steps will be to finalise the draft, with a view to presenting it and having it adopted by the SEANF at its next annual meeting in October of this year. Following its approval, the NHRIs will seek to disseminate the guidelines and its key messages at the national level. The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide funding for the development of the SEANF guidelines on prevention of torture.

In parallel to the working group, the APT took advantage to learn more about Timor-Leste’s torture prevention activities and identify possible areas for cooperation with the government and national organisations. With the assistance of the Office of the Provedor of Justice (PDHJ), meetings were conducted with H.E Dinisio Babo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hugo Fernandes, Director of the National Commission on Chega (CNC), as well as the Director of Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET).