OPCAT Anniversary National Level

As 2016 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and in the spirit of cooperation set out in OPCAT article 11(b), the Members of the SPT along with National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) and State Parties used the occasion to host a series of events and activities at the national level. These events consisted of awareness-raising activities such as conferences, speeches, publication of newspaper articles and radio interviews, in order through these to make the prevention of torture work better known and to reinforce the triangular relationship OPCAT establishes.

In Argentina the anniversary was used to strengthen the awareness and implementation of the OPCAT in various provinces of the country including in Santiago del Estero, Jujuy, La Pampa and Mendoza. Moreover on 27 to 29 of July 2016 the 23rd plenary meeting of the federal human rights council marked the anniversary with a panel on achievements and challenges of prevention polices and in the fight against institutional violence.

Within the frame of anniversary events, awareness activities were carried out by the NPM in Azerbaijan. In May-July 2016 public hearings were organized throughout the country, covering 58 rural and urban areas aimed at raising awareness of the National Action Program on Raising Effectiveness of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan and legal educational work about CAT and OPCAT. In addition, joint legal awareness activities, such as training and seminars for persons kept in places of detention are continued in the districts of Ganja, Guba, Sheki and Jalilabad. Further information on events can be consulted in this Azerbaijan bulletin.

The Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria hosted a reception on 12 October 2016, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of OPCAT. This event organized in cooperation the Austrian Ombudsman Board (NPM) and ODIHR and was attended by over 70 representatives of NPMs from South-East Europe, the OSCE region and from the SPT.

The Croatian NPM (Ombudsman) in collaboration with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) hosted on 29-30 November 2016 a conference* within the framework of the South-East Europe NPM Network. The event marked the anniversary by discussing the themes 1) the revised UN Mandela Rules, 2) the follow-up of NPM recommendations, and 3) the role of monitoring bodies in the “refugee crisis”.

Torture in Costa Rica? Myths and Realities was a high level forum initiated by SPT member Ms. Lorena Gonzalez Pinto on 27 June 2016 in Costa Rica. It was an important discussion that addressed the subject of torture in Costa Rica. The forum also gave homage to Ms. Elizabeth Odio Benito.

On the occasion of the Human Rights Day 10 December 2015 the Public Defender of Rights’ held a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of prevention of ill-treatment in the Czech Republic along with a leaflet. Further, the NPM held a conference, in Olomouc, addressing the Challenges in Prevention of ill-treatment on 30 November 2015 and  in April 2016  the quarterly Report for the Chamber of Deputies focused on NPM’s activities; press briefing* on the report; More information* about the NPM activities in the Czech Republic.

In Estonia the anniversary was marked by a series of events including; on 30 September 2016 the Adviser to the Chancellor of Justice, Ms Ksenia Žurakovskaja-Aru, gave a lecture on "The child and prison" to the prison service and other students of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences. Moreover, the children’s and youth film festival ‘Just Film’ included a special programme on the rights of the child, bearing in mind the anniversary of OPCAT, three films speaking about youth in closed institutions were included in the programme (4 Kings,* They Call Us Monsters* and Starless Dreams*). On 28 November a colloquium was dedicated to the anniversary of OPCAT was organised in the Office of the Chancellor of Justice (the NPM).

OPCAT's 10th anniversary was also an important occasion for the National Agency for the Prevention of Torture in Germany who published a press release* on 22 June 2016. Furthermore, the National Agency participated in the campaign of the APT highlighting the positive changes that the OPCAT and the work of NPMs, in particular, have achieved. In addition, the German SPT Ms. Margret Osterfeld initiated a an international workshop about the significance and development of the OPCAT and the CRPD in relation to persons with psychosocial disabilities and questions concerning rights of freedom and personality of people with  psychiatric diagnosis with regard to coercive measures in psychiatry. The workshop took place on 2 December in Berlin within the framework of the project “Strengthening monitoring for prevention of torture and ill-treatment in places of liberty deprivation“.

On June 24, 2016, the NPM of Georgiapresented its annual report to state agencies*, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and diplomats. The report reflected the human rights situation in places of detention. The presentation was held in connection with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan a conference on "Istanbul Protocol Implementation: Transforming Regional Experiences into International Norms for Effective Torture Investigation and Documentation* was organised by the NPM on 21-22 September 2016.

The Hungarian NPM organized a press conference on the previous activities of the NPM. The conference started with an APT animated film* on the OPCAT anniversary translated into Hungarian.

SPT member, Ms. Suzanne Jabbour, together with Restart Center organized a conference on Breaking the legacy and cycle of Violence and Torture in the MENA Region: Protection, Prevention, Rehabilitation to celebrate Restart’s 20th anniversary and the 26th of June, the UN day International day in support of victims of torture and the OPCAT 10th anniversary, in Beirut, Lebanon. The conference was the platform for testimonies of victims of torture, knowledge sharing between practitioners in the field of rehabilitation of victims of torture and national, regional and international experts as well as governmental bodies.

In Norway the NPM and Norwegian SPT member joined forces when Sivilombudsmann in Norway's human rights seminar this year focused on the legal safeguards and guarantees in psychiatric health care. The seminar took place on 19 October 2016, in Oslo. As the Norwegian NPM is visiting psychiatric facilities, speaks to people who are deprived of their liberty or under forced medication, and also meets with professionals and those responsible for the hospitals, may create a new dynamic in this area in Norway. Even if it has been, traditionally, very difficult to reduce the number of forced or involuntary hospitalizations in Norway, it may now seem that the conference could be an important contribution to this endeavour as it  has created a stronger interest and will to act.

The Balay Rehabilitation Center and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP),  in the Philippines, organized a forum on  11 November, 2016, titled: Views, Propositions, Actions: Promoting Human Rights in Places of Detention to mark the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the OPCAT. SPT member Ms. Caridad June Lopez, presented an overview of the OPCAT and underscored what it could do to help state parties prevent torture and ill treatment in places where persons are deprived of liberty. She recalled that ten years ago, UN Member States paved a new way for international human rights treaties to function with the OPCAT.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of OPCAT the NPM in Romania decided to celebrate the event by organizing a conference with the topic “OPCAT - 10 years of preventing torture - The activity of the Field on preventing torture in places of detention in the first years as National Preventive Mechanism” which was held at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, on November 9th, 2016.  Further, on 15 November  2016, the Regional Centers for the prevention of torture in places of detention (in Alba, Bacau and Craiova Counties) organized round tables and debates with the theme “10 years of prevention of torture”.

In Serbia the NPM together with SPT member Mr. Milos Jankovic held a press conference UN OPCAT: 10 years of prevention of torture and ill-treatment* and took place on 27 October 2016. Participants included CPT member Mr. Djordje Alempijevic, NPM staff members, the Provincial Ombudsman, numerous CSOs and external experts who are participating in NPM activities, a representative of the Ministry of Justice and the Office for Human Rights, as well as journalists. The press conference highlighted the importance of the OPCAT and its bodies SPT and NPMs in the prevention and eradication of torture were pointed out. Further, it stressed that it is necessary to strengthen the organizational, functional and financial independence of the Serbian NPM, and to continue participation of civil society and external experts in its work.

In Slovenia the anniversary was marked on 22 June 2016 with a joint NPM and CSO statement and will be further marked with an event in 2018.

The NPM in Switzerland issued a press release* on their webpage. Swiss SPT member, Mr. Hans-Jörg Bannwart gave an interview to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung*.

On 8 – 10 November 2016 the NPM in Ukraine held a conference in Lviv discussing the results of 4 year of being an NPM in Ukraine (since amendments to the Law on Ombudsman) and 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the OPCAT.

SPT member Mr Gnambi Garba Kodjo used the 10th anniversary to give a presentation of and discuss with the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Drafting of Initial and Periodic Reports of Togo on the OPCAT, in Togo.

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the OPCAT, L’Organisation Contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) and SPT member Ms. Radiha Nasraoui placed a tent at Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in Tunisia to directly engage with inhabitants in Tunis and distributed documents relating to the prevention of torture and the OPCAT. Some journalists came to interview me and asked me to explain to the listeners what the OPCAT means (Arabic radio stations).

The UK marked the anniversary by a high-level event on 29 June 2016 at the Foreign and Commonwealth office. See the statement* delivered by Baroness Anelay, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Civil Society contributions

  • Putting prevention into practice. A booklet from the Association for the Prevention of Torture.*
    English | French | Spanish

*Note: OHCHR is not responsible for the contents of external links.