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Preventing Torture: Update from the Human Rights Implementation Centre

Malcolm Evans

Professor, Sir Malcolm Evans

Press release issued: 6 October 2016

'Developing effective means of preventing torture and holding those responsible for torture to account, remains an absolute imperative for the international community’. (Professor, Sir Malcolm Evans). This month members of the Law School’s Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) have been out in force working with a range of institutions to support their efforts to prevent torture and other ill-treatment.

5-9 September, Ukraine: Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor of Law and Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) led a team of delegates to conclude a visit to Ukraine. 

‘We were pleased to be able to complete our visit by finally accessing to the SBU facilities, where persons are deprived of their liberty. This has greatly assisted our ability to produce a comprehensive report, which will be transmitted to the authorities as soon as possible’.

The UN independent experts noted that Ukraine has made progress in improving conditions of detention in the country, in particular through the reduction of overcrowding in pre-trial detention centres. The increasing use of non-custodial measures during the pre-trial stages of criminal proceedings is a positive step forward. Further information on the visit can be found here.

5 September, Bristol: The HRIC hosted a meeting at the University between the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the African Commission's Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa. This provided an opportunity for members of both Committees to discuss possible ways to collaborate and support each other’s work on the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment in the region.

6-8 September, Rwanda: Debra Long participated in stakeholder consultations to support the process for designating a National Preventive Mechanism in Rwanda. Rwanda ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention in June 2015 and now has an obligation to put in place a National Preventive Mechanism with the aim of preventing torture and other ill-treatment. Since the date of ratification the HRIC has been working closely with the Rwandan National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice, together with its partners under the Article 5 Initiative and the Association for the Prevention of Torture, to assist in the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism. 

This latest consultation brought together representatives from Government, the national human rights institution and civil society organisations, to agree a timetable for completing the designation process. It was also agreed that the HRIC, together with its partner organisations, would assist in the development of a draft law setting out the mandate of the National Preventive Mechanism, as well as various advocacy tools explaining the work and importance of this body. 

12-15 September: Cameroon: Debra Long conducted the first visit to Cameroon under the ESRC Human Rights Law Implementation Project (HRLIP). During this visit Debra met with the in-country consultant for Cameroon, Felix Agbor, as well as the Regional Secretary for the National Commission of Human Rights & Freedoms, in order to discuss and plan project activities in Cameroon for the coming year. 

21-22 September, Kyrgyzstan: Dr Elina Steinerte of the HRIC, travelled to Bishkek, to lead a major international conference ‘Istanbul Protocol Implementation: Transforming Regional Experiences into International Norms for Effective Torture Investigation and Documentation’.  The event saw collaboration between world leading Human Rights experts to fight against the use of torture in Kyrgyzstan, with further discussions into the implementation of the Istanbul Protocol, which was led by Steinerte. Further details on this event can be found here.

23 September, Warsaw: Professor Sir Malcolm Evans spoke at The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Europe's largest annual human rights and democracy conference.

30 September: The UN Human Rights Council approved the candidacy of Dr Elina Steinerte to one of the Councils’ Special Procedures, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).

Moving forwards

4 October, London: the HRLIP project team will come together to discuss the case templates and interview questions and plan for the country visits.

11 October, London: The HRIC together with the Open Society Justice Initiative is convening a one-day roundtable in London on 11 October 2016 on The challenges to the preventive monitoring under OPCAT in the context of counter-terrorism and anti-radicalization measures’.  This event will bring together representatives from UK, Norwegian, Danish and French National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) as well as members of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to discuss ways these bodies can respond to the increasingly stringent counter-terrorism measures in the context of preventive monitoring of prisons. For more info, contact Dr Elina Steinerte.

11 November, London: the Human Rights Implementation Centre, in partnership with Amnesty International, is organising an event to launch a new manual 'Combating Torture and Other Ill-Treatment'. The manual, written principally by HRIC’s Debra Long, sets out in detail State obligations to enforce the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. The new publication provides comprehensive guidance for anyone working to end these abuses worldwide. Book your place via the online form.

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