Véronique De Keyser, Belgium
Having read a report on children, detained and tortured in unimaginable conditions in Israeli prisons, European Parliament member Véronique De Keyser, from Belgium, told herself that the EU could not possibly stand idle:
"These, and other atrocities, happen in countries we hold partnerships and agreements with. Something had to be done!"
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, which De Keyser is part of, regularly highlights the situation of torture in particular contexts and countries. This time, her initiative led to the first global report of the European Parliament, seeking to contribute to the global eradication of torture. A draft report was ready in November 2013.
"We are hoping for results on different levels. First of all, to coordinate better and give more visibility within the EU to the gravity of the human rights violations of torture. Secondly, to take concrete actions like sending Parliament delegations to monitor places of detention, applying the principle of non-refoulement and better protection for vulnerable groups."
The European Union has developed several instruments to fight torture, including specific EU guidelines on torture and an action plan on human rights and democracy which includes a section on torture. Hopefully the new report will contribute to give a new impetus to the implementation of these tools.
"It is true that most key reports in the European Parliament do not get a lot of visibility and attention in the media. We need to enhance our collaboration with NGOs to make advancements."
APT, as well as other leading anti-torture organisations, has welcomed the initiative and commented on the draft report. Véronique De Keyser is very positive about these consultations with civil society:
"They have provided me with important insights regarding what can be done to advance in the eradication of torture. It was a very effective and thorough work and we included most of the suggestions."