In Support of Victims of Torture

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Office for Latin America of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT-AL), in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, wants to give special tribute and express solidarity with victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The APT-AL recalls that the prohibition of torture is absolute and that, according to the Convention against Torture of the United Nations, States Parties are obliged to prevent torture and to carry out prompt and impartial investigations, ensuring the victims adequate reparations and compensation.

More than twenty years after this convention came into effect, the APT-AL expresses its deep concern about the situation in detention centers in the region, where, according to the recent report by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are still common and where there are high rates of prison violence and overcrowding, lack of effective control of the authorities, poor prison conditions, excessive use of pretrial detention and prison corruption.

Faced with this terrible reality, the APT-AL urges States to prevent such situations by ratifying and implementing international instruments, in particular the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. This UN treaty establishes a system of regular visits to detention centers, in order to identify risk factors that lead to torture and to propose solutions to mitigating the risks. Under this system, visits are conducted by an international body – the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture – and national preventive mechanisms, so called NPMs.

The APT-AL takes this opportunity to remind the States Parties to this Protocol of their obligation to establish an independent and effective NPM no later than one year after ratification, and urges the remaining States of the region which are still not part of this instrument, to ratify and implement if as a proof of their commitment to the fight against torture and as recognition of their responsibility to victims and their families.

Currently, there are 63 States Parties to the Optional Protocol, of which 42 have designated their National Preventive Mechanisms. In Latin America, 14 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol. Nine of these States have designated their NPM but only three are fully operational.

The APT is an NGO based in Geneva, Switzerland, which for more than three decades has focused its effort to promote the prevention of torture worldwide. In April 2010, the APT opened its Regional Office for Latin America, located in Panama City.

Panama, 26 June 2012