Which NPM for Togo?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Togo ratified the OPCAT on 20 July 2010, following the adoption of the law by the Togolese Parliament on 10 June 2010. On 21-22 July 2010, the APT, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Togo and the Togolese OPCAT Follow-up Committee, organised a seminar to discuss OPCAT implementation and the most appropriate NPM option in Togo.

Date:21 - 22 July 2010
Place:Togo
Purpose:To assist Togo in fulfilling its obligations towards the implementation of the OPCAT
Background:In June 2009, a seminar was organised jointly by the APT and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Togo (OHCHR-Togo) to discuss the perspectives for OPCAT ratification and implementation in the country. A Follow-up Committee was established to take the opportunity of the momentum in Togo to ratify and implement the OPCAT. It comprises representatives from the legislative, executive and judicial powers, the National Human Rights Commission and the civil society organisations. A road map was adopted by the participants to the seminar to guide the Follow-up Committee in its work.

Thanks to the Follow-up Committee’s work, which was supported by the OHCHR-Togo and the APT, the law on OPCAT ratification was adopted by the Parliament of Togo on 10 June 2010. The ratification itself took place on 20 July 2010.

Togo is now entering a crucial phase in the implementation of its obligations under the OPCAT, namely establishing one or several effective National Preventive Mechanisms as required by the OPCAT.

It is in this context that the APT and the OHCHR-Togo endeavour to continue their successful partnership to assist Togo in the implementation of the OPCAT.
Partners:OHCHR - Togo
OPCAT Follow-up Committee
Activities:A two-day seminar co-organised by the APT, the OHCHR-Togo and the Follow-up Committee was held on 21 and 22 July 2010 in Lomé, Togo. The general objective of the seminar was to assist Togo in fulfilling its obligations towards the implementation of the OPCAT. This seminar gathered approximately 40 participants among relevant actors who may play a role in the establishment of an effective National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), notably:
  • Representatives of the Ministries involved in the implementation of the Protocol
  • Members of the Togolese authorities of visits to places of detention, if any
  • representatives of the NHRC
  • NGOs
  • Representatives of the police, penitentiary centers, gendarmerie, psychiatric hospitals
  • Constitutional Court and Supreme Court
  • Commission of Human Rights of the National Assembly
  • Associations of victims of torture and / or other violations of human rights in detention
Objectives:
  • Enable participants to understand the role and importance of national preventive mechanisms for the effective implementation of the OPCAT.
  • Analyze the Togolese context and identify the most appropriate option for the Togolese NPM.
  • Establish a roadmap that would facilitate the process of establishing a NPM.
Workshop Proceedings:On the first day, the APT gave a presentation recalling all the necessary criteria and requirements for an effective NPM. It also presented several concrete examples of designated NPM and the challenges of their functioning. Both presentations raised a number of questions, including psychiatric centers as places of deprivation of liberty, difference between NPM members and staff, possibility for civil society organizations to assume the NPM mandate on their own, possibility for civil society organizations to monitor the NPM work.

The Follow-up Committee, which was established in 2009, presented the results of their study as well as different NPM options for Togo. It finally recommended the designation of a new body as NPM, which structure would need to be determined. This presentation was followed by a lively debate, which focused on the capacity (or non-capacity of the National Human Rights Commission) to assume the NPM mandate.

On the basis of the background paper presented by the Follow-up Committee, the participants were divided into four different working groups, in which they examined the advantages and challenges of each option: on one side, designating the NHRC; and on the other side, designating a new body as NPM.  The participants also explored practical ways and proposed concrete solutions in the view of the designation of one or the other option as NPM.

The outcomes of the Working Groups were presented during a plenary session. A consensus emerged among the participants who agreed with the recommendations of the Follow-up Committee, namely designating a new body to assume the NPM mandate. It was agreed that operational details (membership, composition, selection of members and staff, powers and guarantees etc) would be further discussed on the following day by the Follow-up Committee members with the assistance of additional resource persons who were identified during the seminar.

On the second day, a working meeting gathering the Follow-up Committee Members, the APT, the OHCHR-Togo and a few resource persons analyzed the discussions from the previous day, regarding the most appropriate NPM option. Two groups were formed: the first group had to examine the legislation of the NHRC, to propose concrete solutions for assuming the NPM mandate and examine their feasibility; while another group examined concretely the structure, mandate, memberships, composition, resources and powers and guarantees of a new body.

The participants further discussed and adopted the recommendations of the seminar. The Follow-up Committee agreed to meet with the Ministry of Human Rights in order to discuss and reach a decision on the most appropriate NPM option for Togo. On that basis, they will further develop one concrete NPM proposal.
Outcome:
  • Increased understanding of the implications of the ratification of the OPCAT for Togo.
  • Concrete proposals on the structure of the Togolese NPM were formulated.
  • A road map to facilitate the establishment of a NPM in Togo was formulated.
Unique Aspects:The seminar was a good example of positive partnership and interaction between various actors. Also, the seminar has been organized at a timely moment, one day after ratification of the OPCAT, the culmination of the momentum gained during the last twelve months in Togo: National OPCAT seminar and establishment of the Follow-up Committee in June 2009; Dakar Conference in April 2010 and various initiatives of the Committee, which led to adoption of the ratification law in June 2010. The priority has therefore shifted to the implementation phase and the selection of the most appropriate NPM option, building on discussions already held amongst national actors.
Next Steps:
  • Support the implementation of the recommendations of the seminar.
  • Continue to support the work of the Follow-up Committee and the next steps of the NPM process including technical assistance on the NPM legislation proposal.
  • Provide advice on forthcoming SPT elections.
Contact Persons:Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero, Africa Programme Officer
Audrey Olivier, OPCAT Coordinator