Gabon: Committee to prepare the ground for new NPM

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gabon has launched a process of establishing its National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). At a recent seminar in Libreville, a multi-disciplinary committee was set up to assist the Ministry of Human Rights to finalise the NPM bill. The aim is to have an operational torture prevention body before June 2016.

Gabon ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) on 22 September 2010. The Gabonese authorities have now asked the APT for technical support in the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) – a requirement under the OPCAT.

The Ministry of Human Rights, together with the APT, therefore organised a national seminar on the establishment of an effective NPM, 23-24 June 2015, in Libreville. The meeting brought together some 40 participants, including representatives of the police, relevant ministries, prison services, psychiatric hospitals, the Parliament, the judiciary and civil society. It was an opportunity for these different actors to know more about the OPCAT and the important role of the NPM in the torture prevention system. Participants discussed a draft text of legislation to create the National Preventive Mechanism, and adopted a roadmap for the next steps in this process.

Senegalese experiences

The seminar benefited the contribution of Boubou Diouf Tall, National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty in Senegal. He shared his experiences of obstacles and practical challenges to be taken into account and mitigated, during the drafting process of the NPM legislation. This direct exchange with the head of an established NPM helped to reassure the Gabonese actors in their process of setting up of a preventive mechanism.

A multidisciplinary follow-up committee was appointed, with the mission to support the Ministry of Human Rights to advocate and raise awareness among relevant authorities and facilitate the NPM establishment process. The committee will also support the Ministry in the finalisation of the NPM bill. The APT will play an advisory role, to support the work of the committee and the OPCAT implementation in general.

The Gabonese authorities, including the Minister of Human Rights with whom the APT delegation had a bilateral meeting, have given themselves a deadline until June 2016 to have an operational NPM.