NGO recommendations on torture for the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

November 24, 2014

Five international NGOs with strong credentials in the area of the fight against torture have written to the EU with sensible recommendations to be incorporated into the next Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. The main recommendations submitted on 19 November 2014 are:  

1. Go beyond silent diplomacy on torture

2. Act against torture using existing EU policy tools, and strengthen the EU’s capacity to stop torture

We recommend that the revised Action Plan should:

  • Ensure the dissemination of the EU Guidelines on Torture among EU and member states’ staff at headquarters and field levels, as well as civil society in the EU and in third countries. In all cases, specific support should be provided regarding the links between the EU Guidelines on Torture and other Guidelines such as the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders
  • Strengthen EU and member states’ capacity to respond pro-actively to threats or violence directed at human rights defenders for documenting and reporting on torture, or other work against torture and ill-treatment
  • Ensure that all human rights training for EU staff and member states’ staff includes explicit training on preventing and responding to torture, and on the consequences of torture, with a view to adopting an integrated approach for action against torture
  • Reinforce monitoring and reporting on the occurrence of torture in third countries, including in the EU Annual Report on Human Rights, with a view to strengthening measures taken to combat it, including in individual cases
  • Establish regular and transparent reviews and assessments of EU and member states’ action under the EU Guidelines on Torture, including meaningful stakeholder engagement and regular, systematic and public field reporting in order to encourage transparency and exchanges with civil society on measures undertaken
  • Identify good practices by EU and member states to prevent and respond to torture and ill-treatment in third countries; and ensure that these best practices are documented, disseminated and reproduced elsewhere, in regular consultation with civil society actors.

3. Tackle torture more effectively with a holistic approach

  • To tackle torture effectively, the EU and its member states must ensure that their policies and actions address the full cycle of the fight against torture. prohibition, prevention, prosecution, redress, reparation and rehabilitation:
  • Actively promote the global ratification and effective implementation of the United Nations (UN) Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and match this by following up on the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and supporting standing invitations to the Special Procedures of the UN
  • Support and promote the ratification of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and its effective implementation within the EU and third countries, by ensuring the establishment or designation of independent and effective national preventive mechanisms (NPMs), while also encouraging states to fully cooperate with international and regional preventive mechanisms
  • Include the concept of holistic rehabilitation and victim participation in defining efforts against torture; EU and member states’ officials should visit rehabilitation centres and organisations working with torture victims on the ground, including during high level visits
  • Ensure that EU member states fully support torture prevention and rehabilitation through the UN Special Fund of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

4. Ensure EU credibility by acting against torture at home and abroad

  • Require EU member states which have not yet ratified the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) to report on progress towards ratification
  • Ensure all EU member states establish well-equipped, resourced and independent national preventive mechanisms (NPMs) and remain in pro-active dialogue with their NPMs with a view to acting on their recommendations, as well as reporting regularly on their OPCAT commitments under the Action Plan
  • Ensure all EU member states fulfil their obligations under UNCAT, and conduct effective follow-up on the recommendations issued by the UN Committee Against Torture.

Revision of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy: NGO recommendations for EU anti-torture policy / November 19, 2014 / Statements / Monitoring protection mechanisms / OMCT.

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