Preventing Torture: The role of NHRIs

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The APT was in Malaysia in December to hold a joint workshop with the Asia Pacific Forum on 'Preventing Torture: the role of NHRIs' for staff of five NHRIs from South East Asia. The event was part of a pilot blended learning project on torture prevention for NHRIs, and aimed at strengthening the NHRIs capacities to carry out preventive detention monitoring. The workshop was co-hosted by the National Human Rights Institution of Malaysia.

Date:6 - 9 December 2010
Place:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Purpose:Strengthening the capacity of NHRIs in South East Asia on the prevention of torture, particularly detention monitoring.
Partners:OHCHR
IDC – International Detention Coalition
ICRC
Activities:From 6th to 9th December 2010, the APT was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to hold a joint workshop with the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) on 'Preventing Torture: the role of NHRIs' for staff of five NHRIs (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor Leste and Thailand) from South East Asia.

The workshop was co-hosted by the National Human Rights Institution of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and aimed at strengthening the NHRIs capacities to carry out preventive detention monitoring. Training visits (‘visiting exercises’) were carried out on the third day to two immigration centres and one women’s prison. The overall objective of the ‘visiting exercises’ were for participants to get the opportunity to apply in practice the methodology of monitoring places of detention in order to draw lessons and increase their knowledge and skills.

The workshop was part of a pilot blended learning project on torture prevention for NHRIs, which had the aim of contributing to the implementation of the APT-APF-OHCHR publication “Preventing torture: an operational guide for NHRIs”, which was released by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Edinburgh in October 2010. The blended learning course comprised of a five week online learning course (25 October to 26 November 2010) and the four day face to face workshop (6 to 9 December in Kuala Lumpur).

The workshop gathered 27 participants representing the five NHRIs.

The specific objectives were to:
  • Review and consolidate the learning from the 5 week online course;
  • Build knowledge and skills on detention monitoring methodology including the preparation, conduct and follow up of visits;
  • Build knowledge in the area of monitoring places of detention for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants;
  • Prepare suggested follow-up points for each NHRIs to work on torture prevention

The methodology employed during the workshop was a combination of short presentations, discussions and interactive exercises (such as role plays), aiming at participants learning through doing. Participants spent lots of time working in groups. The discussions encouraged the exchange of experience among participants.

The workshop also provided the opportunity to discuss the overall strategic plan of NHRIs and how to potentially incorporate a specific detention monitoring plan.
Outcome:Participants debriefed and reflected on their practice, particularly the methodology applied in the two immigration centres and one women’s prison. They identified together with APT, APF and other partners (such as the International Detention Coalition) some key practices and issues that could be addressed in order to further improve the NHRIs work in conducting preventive visits. These include for instance interviewing techniques and follow up to preventive visits through drafting visit reports with recommendations and conducting follow up visits.

At the end of the workshop the participants drafted follow up points to work on torture prevention in particular preventive detention monitoring for their institution, which they are encouraged to present for actual adoption by their institution.

All the NHRIs action points included incorporating preventive visits into the overall plan of actions of the NHRIs and devising a preventive programme of visit (including mapping out places of detention) and establishing a monitoring team (if not already in existence).
Unique Aspects:
  • Combination of online course and workshop including ‘visiting exercise’
  • Building the capacities of the staff rather than political representatives of NHRI
  • Combining individual with institutional learning (through drafting action points)
Documents:Agenda
Related Links:Preventing Torture: New Tools for NHRIs

New online course to build skills in torture prevention (Asia Pacific Forum Website)

Developing practical plans to prevent torture (Asia Pacific Forum Website)
Contact Persons:Tanya Norton, APT Detention Monitoring Adviser
Jem Stevens, APT Asia Pacific Programme Officer