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Torture prevention ambassadors gather in Sydney

Graphic: Inside a prison

Senior representatives from seven NHRIs in the Asia Pacific have presented a range of innovative projects they will undertake to prevent torture.

Senior representatives from seven national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region recently met in Sydney to develop and present a range of innovative projects they will undertake in their respective countries to counter the risk factors behind torture and ill-treatment.

Developed as part of the Torture Prevention Ambassadors program, a new initiative of the APF and the Association for the Prevention of Torture, participants shared and refined their ideas during the course of the four-day workshop, held from 10-13 November 2014.

"There was enormous diversity in the proposals and each was presented with expertise and enthusiasm," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.

Torture Prevention Ambassadors taking part in the induction program in Sydney were selected from the NHRIs of Australia, the Maldives, Mongolia, New Zealand, Korea, the Philippines and Timor Leste.

Their projects ranged from promoting greater respect for the rights of people in police stations, in immigration detention and in mental health units; to encouraging ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; and strengthening the ability of National Preventive Mechanisms to build cooperative relationships and generate systemic changes in places of detention.

The projects also combine different approaches and methodologies, including monitoring visits, investigations, training, capacity building and community awareness initiatives.

The goals and scope of many projects evolved over the four days of discussion with other participants and with the program mentors, Professor Chris Sidoti and Professor Marco Mona.

As a result, each Torture Prevention Ambassador will finalise their project plan in the coming month and seek the endorsement of their respective NHRI.

The finalised projects will be featured in greater detail in the first APF Bulletin of 2015.

As part of their participation in the program, the Torture Prevention Ambassadors will receive ongoing support from the program mentors. They will also report on how their project is progressing through regular blog postings, media interviews and formal presentations.

"We anticipate that these projects will help bring about positive changes in the individual countries but also, through sharing the lessons learned, provide tangible support to other NHRIs in their efforts to prevent torture and ill-treatment in places of detention," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The Torture Prevention Ambassadors program is funded by the European Union, as part of the three-year APF project to strengthen the capacity of national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Date: 17 November 2014

Image credits

  1. Inside a prison - APF, Michael Power