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A much needed push to eradicate torture in Latin America and the Caribbean

GENEVA / SANTIAGO DE CHILE (14 June 2011) – How to strengthen existing torture prevention and protection mechanisms in the region? Over 40 human rights experts, policy-makers and civil society actors from Latin America and the Caribbean will meet on 15-17 June in Santiago de Chile to push forward regional efforts to eradicate torture and ill-treatment.

“Torture and ill-treatment is a major concern in Latin America and the Caribbean region,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, “and much remains to be done to ensure that States’ international obligations, national policies and legislative as well as other reforms are effectively implemented to achieve the desired result: torture’s eradication.”

This first regional expert meeting convened by the Special Rapporteur, will be attended by representatives from Government, national human rights institutions and civil society from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, México, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The event is organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the support of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), Corporación Humanas - Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género, Conectas - Direitos Humaos and Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS).

“Over the past decade, some promising policies, reforms and legislation have been promulgated in the region,” Mr. Méndez noted. “However, these institutional developments and good national practices are vital and need to be further enhanced, strengthened and replicated across the region.”

“I am hopeful that this consultation will provide a much needed push in our efforts to eradicate torture and ill-treatment in the region,” the human rights expert said.

The regional consultation for the Americas will provided an opportunity for a variety of experts and policy makers from different organizations and institutions, both governmental and non-governmental, and national human rights institutions from the region, to exchange their views and experiences on achievements made, and on ways and means to overcome remaining challenges in relation to follow-up to recommendations.

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ) in 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007.

Please note that the “Regional Consultation for the Americas with the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez” will take place in Santiago, Chile from 15-17 June 2011.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Tsatsu Dawson (Tel: +41 794 445 188 / email: tdawson@ohchr.org) and Ms. Sonia Cronin (Tel.: +41 22 917 9160 / email: scronin@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org.

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