Recommendations for the Senegalese NPM

Friday, August 5, 2011

Senegal recently approved the implementing decree of the legislation establishing the National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (ONLPL), which will be the Senegalese NPM. A July workshop issued concrete recommendations to ensure the effective functioning of the ONLPL, and advocated for the prompt appointment of an independent, qualified, credible and human rights committed person to the position of ONLPL.

In the framework of its global campaign for the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), the APT has been very active in Senegal since 2004. Its joint efforts with national actors, mainly the national coalition of NGOs for the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT headed by Amnesty International – Senegal, lead to the ratification of the OPCAT by Senegal on 18 October 2006. In 2009, Senegal adopted a law instituting the National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (ONLPL) as its NPM. The law entered into force in March 2009 and following this, the Senegalese Cabinet adopted, on 16 June 2011, the implementation decree of the law instituting the ONLPL.

It is within the context of the adoption of this decree that the APT, jointly with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA), the West African Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amnesty International - Senegal and in collaboration with the Senegalese Ministry of Justice, organized a two days workshop on the effective functioning of the ONLPL, from 18 – 19 July 2011 in Dakar.

The workshop was officially opened by the Secretary General in the Ministry of Justice, representing the Minister of Justice and brought together representatives of various government ministries, the Presidency of the Republic, Parliament, the police, Gendarmerie, the penitentiary, the media and civil society organizations. The Focal Point for Africa of the UN Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) was also invited.

The main objective of the workshop was to exchange ideas and formulate concrete recommendations in order to ensure the effective functioning of the ONLPL in the discharge of its mandate of preventing torture in Senegal, as well as advocating for the prompt appointment of an independent, qualified, credible and human rights committed person to the position of ONLPL.

During the workshop, participants analyzed the institutional and legislative framework of the ONLPL and its conformity with the OPCAT and raised a number of weaknesses in this framework. Therefore, participants proposed amendments to the implementation decree and formulated concrete recommendations to be transmitted to the Government of Senegal, in order to help enhance the effectiveness of the ONLPL when it becomes fully functional.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the CPTA to share the Guidelines and Measures on the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa or the Robben Island Guidelines (RIG) and to propose concrete ways through which the ONLPL could cooperate with the CPTA and use the Robben Island Guidelines in its torture prevention efforts. The APT also distributed useful material including its NPM Guide, the Chapter V of its recent edition of the OPCAT manual as well as the Report of the Regional Conference on Prevention of Torture, held in Dakar in April 2010, including the Dakar Plan of Action.