APT Board welcomes new President and Vice-President

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Respected international lawyer and academic, Professor Robert Roth, has been elected APT President by our General Assembly.

Professor Roth is the former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Geneva and the former Director of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He was also the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

It is a great honour and responsibility to take on this presidency. Thank you to all those who have put their trust in me.

Professor Robert Roth, APT President

“The APT is unique because it was founded on the vision of Jean-Jacques Gautier,” Professor Roth said. “Over the past 40 years, this vision has probably been realised beyond anything he could have hoped for.”

Professor Roth said the APT was effective because it combined ‘macro’ advocacy at the international and regional levels with ‘micro’ efforts to deliver national-level projects with key partners. Underpinning its work was a commitment to collaboration and dialogue with authorities, civil society organisations, justice actors, and UN bodies and mechanisms.

Professor Roth replaces Martine Brunschwig Graf, who has served as APT President since 2006.

"The criminal and legal skills of my successor provide an excellent basis for addressing the issues we are facing today in the field of torture prevention and security," Ms Brunschwig Graf said.

Ms Brunschwig Graf commenced her presidency shortly when the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) entered into force. A key focus of these early years, she said, was promoting the adoption and implementation of the OPCAT in all regions.

While this remains a key pillar of the APT’s mandate, Ms Brunschwig Graf said that promoting safeguards in the first hours of detention, including through implementation of the Méndez Principles on Effective Interviewing, was a vital contribution the APT was making to prevent torture and ill-treatment.

Florence Simbiri-Jaoko, former Chairperson of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, will serve as APT Vice President.

“It is an honour to be elected to this role and to represent Africa, especially as the APT seeks to deepen its regional presence,” Ms Simbiri-Jaoko said.

“It is easy to have international norms. It is easy to have regional norms. However, getting them to work at the national level is the greatest challenge. The fact that the APT has had this presence and impact at all levels is just incredible,” she said.

The APT is grateful to Martine Brunschwig Graf for all the work achieved under her presidency and looks forward to continuing and deepening its partnerships and achievements on torture prevention under the new leadership.