Further synergies within Ombuds institutions designated as NPMs essential to bring about long-lasting change

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Representatives from nine Ibero-American ombuds institutions designated to serve the torture prevention mandate of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) gathered for the first time in Panama between 19-21 September to identify common challenges and good practices relevant to their mandate. During the three-day workshop, it was agreed that synergies within these institutions were essential to guarantee the NPM’s capacity to bring about long-lasting changes in detention practices.

Implementing the mandate of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) within an existing Ombuds institution bears specific challenges, in particular in relation to human and financial resources, as well as operational autonomy. To overcome these challenges, the participating Ombuds institutions from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay identified and discussed minimum criteria to ensure the NPM’s operational autonomy.

Significantly, all participants agreed that synergies within an Ombuds institution and its NPM were essential to guarantee the NPM’s capacity to bring about long-lasting changes to detention practices.

The workshop was the culmination of an ambitious project, kicked-off in January 2017 and implemented in partnership with the Ibero-American Ombudsman Federation (FIO), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and PROFIO. Following the first research phase, which sought to understand all aspects of the functioning* of an NPM within an ombuds institution through a mix of in-depth country visits and survey data, the APT put together a working paper which was then discussed during the September workshop in Panama.

The main outcomes of the workshop will soon be published.

* including its mandate and scope; information sharing; finances; visits, reports and recommendations; representation and interaction; communication and visibility; and accountability