Penal Reform International (PRI) and its South Caucasus regional office has been a close partner of the APT for many years. In 2013 we joined PRI in producing a series of thematic papers and factsheets to support monitoring bodies to identify and address risk factors for torture and ill-treatment. Tsira Chanturia, PRI’s regional director in Tbilisi, Georgia, believes that the most effective way for National Preventive Mechanisms to prevent torture is to address systemic issues.
"The themes were selected based on preliminary consultations with NPMs. I hope this toolkit will help them to focus on thematic issues and areas which have been either overlooked or not sufficiently covered during monitoring visits. Perhaps, using the thematic papers and factsheets will encourage NPMs to think further about factors which constitute the environment for torture in prisons."
Parts of the toolkit were piloted at a joint PRI/APT training for the Georgian NPM in June. The feedback from participants was positive, highlighting problematic issues which they had not thought of before.
PRI has been supporting the work of the Georgian NPM for several years. In September 2012 video footage of prison guards torturing detainees cast a big question mark over the efficacy of the NPM in the eyes of some observers. This was followed by a turbulent period of staff changes in late 2013.
Tsira stresses the importance of NPMs to focus on preventing abuse, rather than dealing with complaints. To do this, she says, the Georgian NPM needs increased autonomy within the Ombudsperson’s Office.
"An additional challenge is that we now have a new composition of the NPM group. These new members need further capacity building to develop their monitoring skills."