The African Commission welcomes the Méndez Principles in a first time ever dedicated resolution
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights supports the Méndez Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations that are reinforcing its protection mandate and its previous instruments on torture prevention and safeguards in police custody.
On 9 November 2022, during its 73rd ordinary session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted the Resolution on the Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information-Gathering (Méndez Principles) (ACHPR/Res.545 (LXXIII) 2022) which is the first resolution dedicated to the Méndez Principles. The Méndez Principles aim at replacing interrogation, often aimed at obtaining a confession sometimes by force, with rapport-based interviewing, a more effective way of obtaining accurate and reliable information.
In this Resolution, the African Commission welcomes the Méndez Principles and encourages State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to support the use of the six Méndez Principles as a useful framework for preventing torture and other ill-treatment during hearings and interviews. The African Charter, ratified by 54 states prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in Article 5.
Twenty years after the adoption by the African Commission of the Robben Island Guidelines on Prohibition and Prevention of Torture in Africa, the Méndez Principles offer concrete measures to implement them. In addition, the Méndez Principles uniquely combine interviewing techniques with the respect for legal and procedural safeguards enshrined in the Luanda Guidelines on Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-trial Detention in Africa adopted by the Commission in 2014.
The Commission, therefore, entrusts the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) and the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa with the task of integrating the Méndez Principles into their promotional mandate and disseminating them widely to States Parties to the African Charter.
The APT is ready to support the African Commission and the State Parties to the African Charter in moving forward with the implementation of the Méndez Principles.
With this resolution, the African Commission recognizes the crucial role that police forces play in the maintenance of law and order, the administration of justice and the respect of human rights. The adoption of the resolution represents a key milestone in building more professional and more human rights-compliant police services in Africa. This will increase trust in law enforcement, contribute to fair trials, ensure justice is better served, and safer societies for all.
The year 2022 saw a growing recognition of the Méndez Principles, with reference to the Principles in two resolutions adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly in New York during its 77th Session: the resolutions on torture and on the administration of justice.