What we do
Torture is one of the most serious violations of a person’s fundamental rights. It destroys their dignity, body and mind and has far-reaching effects on their family and community. Despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, its practice remains widespread, particularly in places out of public view.
The APT’s vision is a world without torture or any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To achieve this vision we work within three integrated areas:
- Transparency in places of detention: Promoting a system of visits by independent experts to prisons and other places where people are held in detention.
- Effective laws and policies: Lobbying governments to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other international and regional anti-torture treaties and supporting the development of national legal frameworks to protect the rights of persons deprived of their liberty.
- Capacity for prevention: Strengthening capacities and creating partnerships for prevention within countries, bringing governments, police services, judges and lawyers, national human rights institutions and civil society together in the fight against torture.
To improve the capacity for torture prevention at national level, the APT offers legal advice on criminalising torture, provides training on visiting places of detention, gives advice on the establishment and functioning of national prevention mechanisms and advocates for legislative reform, ratification and implementation of relevant international treaties.
We work in close cooperation with a range of actors, including state authorities, police services, national human rights institutions, civil society and international organisations. Throughout the years we have developed a regional and thematic expertise that also helps us to provide the link between international and national actors.
The APT has assisted in the drafting and implementation of international and regional legal instruments to prevent torture, including the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol (OPCAT), the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and the Robben Island Guidelines for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture in Africa. At the national level we help States with domestication of the Convention against Torture and with the development of legal safeguards which will help prevent torture and other ill-treatment.
Advocating for preventive monitoring mechanisms
The APT advocates and lobbies governments, national institutions, parliamentarians, NGOs, regional bodies and the United Nations to establish and maintain effective torture prevention bodies. We lead the global campaign for ratification and implementation of the OPCAT.
The APT works with key national, regional and international actors to strengthen their capacity to prevent torture. Specifically, the APT advises states on how to establish and maintain independent visiting bodies, trains national preventive mechanisms and NGOs on how to visit places of detention, trains the police and judiciary on legal norms and safeguards against torture, and provides advice on legislative reforms to better prevent torture at national level.
Producing practical tools
The APT develops and disseminates practical tools for all actors involved in the prevention of torture. We maintain a comprehensive database on the OPCAT and we publish books, manuals and training material in many languages. Through our website, e-newsletters and social media channels we provide continuous monitoring and analysis of torture prevention developments in the world.
Jean-Sébastien Blanc, detention monitoring adviser at the APT, talks about his work in this short film produced by Radio Télévision Suisse in 2012 (In French).