First provincial preventive mechanism set up in Argentina

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The province of Chaco is the first province in Argentina to appoint and implement its preventive mechanism in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, signed by the Government in 2004. At national level, the bill creating a national system for prevention of torture and other ill-treatment is still being debated in the Senate.

To support the setting up of the Chaco Provincial Mechanism for the prevention of torture and promoting the implementation of the OPCAT, the APT visited Buenos Aires and Resistencia this April. Together with the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies and the Provincial Committee for the Prevention of Torture of Chaco, the APT organized a two day workshop for provincial legislators, municipal and judicial officials, representatives of social movements and human rights organizations.

It is expected that the Provincial Mechanism, which is comprised of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, two members of the Human Rights Commission of the State Legislature, the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and five individuals from civil society, can begin to operate as soon as possible. It is now important that the public authorities assign the necessary resources and infrastructure for the Committee to allow it to carry out its mandate of systematic monitoring of all places of detention. Human rights organizations and social movements that were present at the workshop stressed their full support for the Committee and their willingness to collaborate with it.

The workshop benefited also from the participation of Dr. Victor Rescia, member of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT). He explained the mandate and methodology that will be used during the official visit of this international body to Argentina, from 18 to 27 April 2012.  Hopefully, this visit can move forward the process towards the designation of the National Preventive Mechanism. The bill creating a national system for prevention of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as an NPM, has been unanimously approved by the House of Representatives but is pending approval before the Senate, amounting to a four year delay by the State of Argentina.