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APF conference to spotlight prevention of torture

Graphic: Inside a prison

Preventing torture and protecting the rights of people held in detention will be the focus of the APF’s Third Biennial Conference.

Preventing torture and protecting the rights and dignity of people held in places of detention will be the focus of the APF's Third Biennial Conference, to be hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia.

Across the Asia Pacific, staff and Commissioners from national human rights institutions (NHRIs) regularly monitor places of detention, from prisons and police lock ups to immigration detention centres and closed psychiatric facilities.

These preventive visits, and the recommendations made by NHRIs to detaining authorities and governments, have helped drive positive changes to laws, policies, practices and community attitudes across many countries in the region.

For example, 17 of 21 proposals recommended by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives in relation to the prevention of torture were included in that country's ground-breaking Anti-Torture Act, passed by the national parliament in 2013.

And following the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the National Human Rights Commission has monitored the state of prisons to ensure that inmates who were injured have received the care they need and that those remaining are detained in conditions that are safe.

The APF Conference will feature presentations from leading speakers:

  • on the role of NHRIs to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and
  • on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and monitoring.

There will also be presentations from selected APF Torture Prevention Ambassadors on the innovative projects that they are conducting in their countries

In addition, Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, will be the keynote speaker at a session on the role of NHRIs to protect human rights defenders and NHRIs at risk when they promote and protect human rights.

Around 150 representatives from NHRIs, governments, civil society organisations and UN agencies from across the Asia Pacific will attend the Conference, which will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on 28 August 2015.

The event is one of the largest regular human rights gatherings in the region.

The APF's 20th Annual General Meeting will be held prior to the conference, on 26-27 August 2015, and involve representatives from all 22 member institutions.

It will include a presentation from Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

APF Torture Prevention Ambassadors will hold their second meeting on 29-30 August 2015 to discuss the progress of their projects with mentors Chris Sidoti and Marco Mona, as well as with staff from the APF and the APT.

Date: 25 May 2015

Image credits

  1. Inside a prison - APF, Michael Power