Regional perspectives

Five regional roundtables were held to take stock on the situations in the different regions, identifying common challenges and seeking possible ways of overcoming obstacles to effective torture prevention strategies.

In Africa, a lack of political will to implement the OPCAT effectively was identified with many States delaying their obligations to establish an effective NPM, or not granting sufficient powers, guarantees and independence to the designated institutions.

The Americas face similar challenges to the African region in relation to the establishment of NPMs, with several processes being stalled. The need to mobilise public opinion for torture prevention came to light during the debates.

The Asia-Pacific region is less advanced than Africa and the Americas, in number of States Parties. The need to dispel myths and misconceptions about the OPCAT dominated the debates. For instance, participants acknowledged that the focus on the word “torture” is misleading and there still some resistance to outside scrutiny.

Europe and Central Asia is the region of the world where there has been most progress, with the highest number of States Parties to the OPCAT. While acknowledging practical challenges related to the NPM operations, the need to have a tool to assess the effectiveness of the NPMs and the importance of sharing practices dominated the debates.

Finally, the discussions around the OPCAT in the Middle East and North Africa region were tainted by the Arab Spring and how to ensure torture prevention in times of transition. Adopting a holistic approach towards torture prevention – and hence, the OPCAT – brought consensus in countries of transition.