Preventing torture in the context of democratic transitions

Thursday, June 21, 2012

North Africa is currently characterized by institutional and legislative reforms and democratic transitions. National actors face major challenges in their aspirations to strengthen guarantees for the promotion and protection of human rights. They are confronted with the major question on how to deal with grave violations of human rights perpetrated in the past, while establishing guarantees that violations will not be repeated, including measures to prevent torture?


These issues were debated during a workshop that the APT organized jointly with the Inter-ministerial Delegation for Human Rights of the government of Morocco and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Rabat, on 9 - 10 June 2012.

The workshop provided a space for an open exchange and for sharing of experiences among selected government officials, representatives of National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The rich and engaged discussion looked at how to address the legacy of torture and other serious human rights violations, how to consecrate the absolute prohibition of torture and the safeguards against torture into new constitutions and laws and how to ensure that these legal guarantees will be implemented in practice.

Referring to the experience in Latin America the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, showed how demands for accountability stay alive over decades. Representatives of the National Preventive Mechanisms of the Maldives and France shared their everyday prevention practice and triggered a rich debate about the prospect of establishing such mechanisms in North Africa.

Key UN human rights mechanisms concerned with the prevention of torture in times of democratic transition were also represented: Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice, Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture; Essadia Belmir, Vice-President of the UN Committee against Torture; Suzanna Jabbour, Vice-President of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture; Commissioner Jehaan Mahmoud from the Maldives National Human Rights Commission (National Preventive Mechanism of the Maldives), Michel Clemot, Secretary General of the French Controller of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (National Preventive Mechanisms of France) as well as experts from the different participating countries. The essence of the discussion will be made available in a summary report.

For more information please contact Esther Schaufelberger, MENA Programme Officer.