Convention against Torture Initiative appoints Head of Secretariat

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) has continued to build on the momentum created since its launch last year by appointing a new full time Head of Secretariat. Lee Hegarty (pictured) took up the post on 1 April.

Lee has a wealth of experience working on human rights and justice issues at national and international level, including lengthy spells leading projects on political and criminal justice reform as part of the Northern Ireland peace process and heading up the security and justice section of the human rights department of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Responding to his appointment, Lee said:

“I know from first-hand experience that there can be a range of reasons why States still have not ratified important treaties such as the UN Convention against Torture. They may simply lack knowledge of what ratification entails or the capacity to take forward basic steps towards ratification.”

States may also be put off by a perception that ratification will place an unjustifiable burden on their agencies, both in terms of legislative and practical reform and future reporting requirements.

“The CTI’s core vision of offering constructive advice and support, including sharing experiences – good and bad – from other States in the same region, is an exciting prospect and one that I hope will lead to real results soon in terms of increased ratifications of CAT and OPCAT and more effective implementation of the Convention.”

Lee’s immediate priority as Head of Secretariat is managing a number of high profile events in the months ahead. In May, the CTI organises a seminar for non-states parties in New York, which will include the presentation of a ratification tool prepared by the APT. Various regional events in key regions such as Central America, South-East Asia and Africa are also currently being planned. In addition, the CTI will be taking forward important direct discussions with non-states parties to explore what assistance the Initiative can offer them to help them towards ratification and more effective implementation of the Convention.

Lee emphasised the important role of the CTI Group of Friends in providing a base for knowledge and information-sharing between States and his desire to see other States join. He would be very happy to discuss admission to the Group of Friends with State representatives, irrespective of whether their State has ratified the Convention and its Optional Protocol, and with NGOs who may wish to be associated with the CTI.

The CTI Secretariat is currently hosted within the APT’s Centre Jean-Jacques Gautier in Geneva. Lee Hegarty can be contacted on +41 (0)22 919 21 72 or by email.