Regional OSCE discussions on torture prevention

Friday, February 21, 2014

Switzerland is finally putting the issue of torture prevention back on top of the OSCE’s political agenda. Torture is the leading focus of the human rights component of Switzerland’s 2014 OSCE Chairpersonship-in-Office.

These long overdue discussions are set to be kicked off in Belgrade on 24 February, when civil society and ombudsperson representatives from throughout the Balkan region will convene to address the issue. At this regional workshop the APT has been invited to deliver the opening presentation.    

This regional exchange will be the first of four such meetings on the subject of torture prevention, to be held in the course of the year in Vienna (April), Dushanbe (May) and Tbilisi (September). The overarching aim of these workshops is to elaborate recommendations regarding how OSCE participating States and other actors might counter abuses from taking place. These recommendations will be fed into a final civil society meeting which will be held in the Swiss city of Basel on 2-3 December, towards the end of Switzerland’s Chairpersonship-in-Office. It is envisaged that the recommendations will then be raised during the OSCE Ministerial Council, the highest-level permanent decision-making body, which will take a few days later in Basel. 

The last time torture prevention was placed this high up on the OSCE’s political agenda was in 2003, during the Chairpersonship-in-Office of the Netherlands. Since then, the issue has been conveniently forgotten by many OSCE states. The APT very much welcomes the importance placed on torture prevention by Switzerland in 2014.