Accompanying the first steps of Argentina's NPM
In May 2018, the APT held a one-day workshop with the newly established National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) of Argentina, also known as National Committee to Prevent Torture, as well as with representatives from Local Preventive Mechanisms. The exchange aimed to strengthen the functioning of the NPM in its first months of operation, on the basis of examples from other NPMs. A series of activities and debates on torture prevention also took place with local civil society organisations and public oversight institutions.
All NPMs face some common challenges when they start to be operational. However, establishing an entire new body as NPM as this is the case in Argentina represents a series of challenges. This is a new collegial body composed of 13 members, coming from a wide range of institutions: legislative and judiciary powers, civil society, academia and oversight institutions, including local preventive mechanisms
As a new institution, the NPM needs to establish its processes and structures, define its vision and mission as well as prioritise its work. In particular, the first year is absolutely crucial to build its foundations and establish a robust and credible institution, bearing in mind that the institution will evolve over time.
Based on its expertise accompanying NPMs in their first steps all around the world, the APT shared experiences from new collegial NPMs from Latin America and other countries, in particular Mauritania and Tunisia. During the one-day workshop, members and staff from local preventive mechanisms (e.g preventive mechanisms operating at the provincial level) also shared their views with the newly established NPM, thus nurturing the discussions with first-hand information.
The APT also participated in additional activities coordinated by local civil society organisations, in particular the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), which enabled in-depth discussions, including on gathering data and information; on the very concept of torture prevention; and on relationships between the NPM and civil society organisations.
Finally, the APT took the opportunity of its presence in Argentina to hold a half-day working meeting with the Federal Prisons’ Ombudsman (who also integrates the NPM) and his staff on good practices related to monitoring of first hours of custody.