#SafeInCustody: Communicating hope for dignity in detention

Monday, March 21, 2022

An innovative online gathering for torture prevention advocates in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand has offered new insights and practical skills to help change community attitudes around torture and ill-treatment.

The three-day workshop on hope-based communication featured presentations and discussions with artists, cartoonists, photographers, and communicators from across South-East Asia, who shared ideas to reframe our advocacy and promote respect for the rights of arrested persons.

The workshop is one of the key regional activities under the APT-EIDHR project, #SafeInCustody, which aims to reduce risky police practices, including forced confession and incommunicado detention, in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Approximately 25 participants from #SafeInCustody project partners and national human rights institutions took part in the workshop, held from 8-10 February 2022 and co-hosted by the APT and the Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF). 

“The baseline studies for our project show that community attitudes condone torture and ill-treatment in certain circumstances,” said Shazeera Zawawi, APT Senior Adviser on Research and Innovation.

“One of the drivers to change police behaviour is having strong community support that rejects torture and demands that all people deprived of liberty are treated with dignity, in line with international standards,” she said.

“We hope this workshop will inspire our partners to refresh the way they communicate and identify new ways to inject hope and positivity in their human rights advocacy.”

The workshop included an introduction to hope-based communication by the Manila-based communications team, Wise Owl, as well as creative labs on crafting effective messages, data visualisation, photography and cartooning. 

“After the session with Wise Owl, I am convinced that the hope-based communication approach will help us apply a new perspective to look at the issues we want to tackle and mobilise more people to join our effort,” said Prakaidao Phurksakasemsuk, CrCF EU Project Officer. 

Participants also heard from CrCF on their national activity -  #SafeInCustody Month - where they partnered with Thai artists to highlight issues related to police custody through paintings, sculptures and live performance.  

In addition to the ideas and information shared, the workshop also provided an opportunity to support and encourage partners and advocates who have been working under challenging conditions, Ms Zawawi said.

“During the past year, their work has been affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, intimidation, political instability and censorship by the authorities,” she said. “It was important to provide space for participants to reflect on these challenges together and recharge their energy through team activities.”