2023 Knowledge Exchange

GANHRI’s 2023 knowledge exchange brought together more than 90 NHRIs from around the globe to discuss best practices, expertise, problems, and experiences in addressing incidences of torture and ill-treatment in their various nations.    
Following on the decision to dedicate the 14th International Conference to discuss the role of NHRIs in preventing and fighting torture and other forms of ill-treatment, the event served to identify NHRI priorities in addressing this grave human rights violation.    

Background

Torture, cruel, inhumane, and humiliating treatment are all prohibited and can never be justified or allowed. This extreme form of suffering is one of the few crimes that is universally prohibited, regardless of whether international agreements have been ratified, and it violates the intrinsic dignity of the human being. 

Despite this reality and a universal ban, torture continues to be carried out in certain parts of the world and has an enormous detrimental effect on individuals and vulnerable groups.   

The victims of torture and ill-treatment are often among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society and are left with lasting physical and psychological scars.Amina Bouayach, GANHRI Secretary

To address the issue of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and receive contributions to its prevention occurring in regional and global level, GANHRI works closely with National Human Rights Institutions which are strategically positioned to prevent and address torture through investigation, monitoring, reporting, and advising the government and its institutions, in addition to human rights education and awareness campaigns. 

The decision of 14th International Conference to address the role of NHRIs in preventing and combating torture and other forms of ill-treatment comes with a crucial period in history for all human rights advocated, including the NHRIs.

The Knowledge Exchange of good practices was an occasion for NHRIs to individually and collectively as GANHRI share best practices and pledge to work together to address this serious human rights violation.

“We are witnessing much of the progress we have made over the years being undermined and even reversed in some regions. It is precisely in times like these that we, as NHRIs, must reaffirm our unequivocal commitment to protect fundamental human rights.”Amina Bouayach, GHANRI Secretary

After the introductory address by GANHRI´s Secretary, Amina Bouayach, participants were split into discussion groups guided by lead questions and co-facilitators. The leading questions prompted their exchanges:

  • What are your NHRI’s accomplishments and top priorities when it comes to preventing torture and defending the rights of victims?  
  • What difficulties do you encounter, particularly as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), and how might you resolve them?  
  • How do you deal with vulnerable groups that are at risk of being tortured and mistreated, such as kids, the elderly, women, persons using public transportation, and those with little freedom?
  • What tactics do you employ to collaborate and get past challenges in order to advance human rights and stop torture and other cruel treatment? How can the GANHRI, OHCHR, the civil society, and other stakeholders support NHRIs in these endeavours? 

The event organised in partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), saw the participation of NHRIs from the four regions as facilitators of these exchanges, including NHRI Mongolia, Australia, Rwanda, Georgia, Portugal, Togo, Madagascar, El Salvador and Jordan. 

                         

Outcomes 

Positive outcomes and constructive assessments were identified by NHRIs when sharing best practices and experiences when implementing their mandates in addressing the issue of torture and other ill-treatment: 

  • Emphasis was placed on handling complaints, monitoring all places of deprivation of liberty including prison, long term care facilities, and other places. 
  • Reporting on circumstances, including to national authorities and UN anti-torture bodies like the Committee Against Torture (CAT), the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SRTCDP), were achieved. 
  • Emphasis was placed on advising the government and authorities, encouraging constant communication and trusting relationships, and offering human rights education and training to prevent torture and other cruel treatment.  

Objectives were also considered, some of which to some extent reflect the favourable outcomes. Among the most urgent issues were those listed as follows:  

  • Creating and collaborating with strong, independent NPMs includes advocating as NHRIs for the ratification of the CAT and OPCAT, assisting state authorities with the selection of a strong, independent NPM, acting as an NPM themselves, cooperating with the SPT and other UN mechanisms, and more. 
  • Addressing the needs and hazards of those at risk of being tortured, such as those who are detained, those who are on the move, women, children, and the elderly.
  • Engaging with and supporting victims, and working with those who defend their rights. 

                 

Conclusion 

NHRIs from all regions and partners were provided an exclusive platform to address and exchange the issue of torture and other form of ill-treatment at a global level. 

“As we gather here today, let us reaffirm our commitment to the universal prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. Let us also recognize the courage and resilience of survivors of torture and ill-treatment, and commit ourselves to supporting them in their journey towards healing and justice.” – Amina Bouayach, GANHRI Secretary

In response to this human rights violation, NHRIs are implementing innovative approaches, including through investigating, monitoring, reporting, and advising the state and its institutions, as well as by conducting human rights education and awareness.  

Amina Bouayach, GANHRI Secretary, closed the meeting by inviting NHRI members to reiterate their support for an international prohibition on torture and other cruel treatment, and to commit in amplifying our global efforts against torture, and make a meaningful impact in combating this grave human rights violation. 

NHRIs under the auspices of GANHRI will meet again next for the 14th International Conference on Torture and other ill-treatment: The role of National Human Rights Institutions” to be held in Copenhagen from 6-8 November 2023.