Mauritania: civil society seeks dialogue on torture prevention body

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In May, activists of the civil society reminded the Mauritanian government of its obligation to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) before November 2, 2013, in accordance with Mauritania’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in October of last year.

The NGOs made it clear that they want to participate in implementing the OPCAT and shaping the NPM. In a workshop that took place in Nouakchott 27-28 May 2013, NGOs deepened their understanding of the OPCAT and discussed their vision concerning its implementation with government officials, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and international experts.

The establishment of the NPM is an obligation of the state and the primary responsibility therefore lies with the government. But to ensure the legitimacy of the NPM it is important that it is established in an open, inclusive and transparent process, involving not only the authorities but also a wide range of actors, including civil society. The NGOs discussed how they can best contribute to the process and thereby ensure the independence and efficiency of the NPM. In particular, they want to ensure that the composition of the NPM will respect gender balance and the cultural diversity of the country.  

Participants took inspiration from best practices of other States Parties to the OPCAT and discussed with Hans-Jörg Bannwart from the UN Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), Mondher Cherni, Secretary General of the Organization against torture in Tunisia (OCTT), Dr. Hamida Dridi, member of the executive committee of Tunisian League of Human rights (LTDH) and with the APT.

The workshop participants made eleven recommendations to the government, and proposed the creation of a working group with participants from the public administration and the civil society to work out a concrete NPM proposal.

The workshop was organised by the APT jointly with international and national NGOs (SOS Immigration and the members of the OPCAT working group of the regional detention monitoring forum of Dignity and Restart) and with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).