The Asia Pacific Region has some unique challenges when it comes to promoting the message of torture prevention. The region is made up of 50 countries, some with densely populated urban centers and others made up of strings of isolated islands. Only a handful of these countries share a common language yet each have a rich and diverse culture and way of life.
As the only region in the world without a regional human rights legal mechanism, perhaps it should come as no surprise that it is the region with one of the lowest rates of UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) ratification in the world. Yet momentum for torture prevention is growing, with the Philippines recently becoming the 63rd States Party to the OPCAT, joining the Maldives, New Zealand and Cambodia as the fourth State to ratify in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, Australia, which along with Timor Leste is already a signatory, is close to ratification.
Since 2004 the APT has been actively promoting the torture prevention message in the Asia Pacific region at both a regional and bilateral level, with bilateral programmes focusing on Indonesia, the Maldives, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand. Adapting to country context and the priorities of partners APT’s activities in the region includes training Nepalese judges on their role in preventing torture, facilitating Thai civil society’s efforts in preparing an alternative report to the Committee Against Torture, and assisting stakeholders in the Philippines to develop their own model for a National Preventive Mechanism under the OPCAT by facilitating exchange of experiences from staff of functioning NPMs elsewhere in the world.
APT’s partners in the region include State authorities, national institutions and civil society at a local, national and regional level.