New torture prevention ambitions for African NHRIs

Friday, December 13, 2013

Representatives of National human rights institutions from 11 African countries recently gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for a workshop on how to monitor places of detention.

To effectively prevent torture, the institutions in charge of protecting human rights need to build and strengthen knowledge and skills on detention monitoring, particularly with regard to the methodology of preparing, conducting and following up on visits. This is something that the APT, in partnership with the Network of African NHRIs (NANHRI), hoped to address through a regional training workshop on “Monitoring Places of Detention”, hosted by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, on 19-22 November in Kampala. The workshop is part of the APT-NANHRI three-year blended learning project to strengthen the institutional capacity of African National human rights institutions to prevent torture in their countries.

Visit to Luzira prison

The workshop was marked by constant interaction, fruitful discussions and engaging debates, with sharing of best practices in preventive monitoring. Participants had the opportunity to apply in practice the methodology of monitoring places of detention at a visiting exercise to Luzira Maximum Security Prison. The participants unanimously ensured that this exercise was the most valuable session of the workshop enabling them to gain practical skills in the preparation, conduct and, especially, the reporting aspect of a visit.

At the end of the workshop, participants were asked to prepare concrete action points for their national institutions, to further put into practice and share the knowledge gained from the workshop with their NHRIs colleagues, through meetings, training and workshops.

New objectives and ambitions

Participants asserted that they will go back to their countries with new objectives and ambitions. Some of these are taking a preventive rather than a reactive approach to monitoring detention facilities, improving their reporting methodology, and helping their institutions to improve the quality of follow-up activities. Other actions envisaged are increasing the number of unannounced visits to police station, training prison and police authorities on human rights, making more thematic monitoring visits, and improving their methods of inspection.

The third activity of the APT-NANHRI project will be another blended learning training on monitoring places of detention, to take place in 2014 and targeting French speaking African NHRIs.

Watch UBC's TV-report from the training