GANHRI 2023 Knowledge Exchange

Torture and other ill-treatment : The role of NHRIs

This event is reserved to NHRI members and invited partners only

Organised in partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)


Torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is absolutely prohibited and can never be justified or tolerated. The infliction of this extreme form of suffering denies the inherent dignity of the human being and is one of the few crimes that is universally prohibited, regardless of the ratification of international instruments.  

Despite the universal ban, torture continues to exist in all regions, and has a disproportionate effect on persons and groups in situation of vulnerability. National human rights institutions (NHRIs), as independent institutions of the state with a broad human rights promotion and protection mandate, play a crucial role in addressing torture and other forms of ill-treatment and contributing to its prevention. NHRIs are strategically positioned to apply their unique mandate and functions to eradicate this practice. This includes through investigating, monitoring, reporting, and advising the state and its institutions, as well as by conducting human rights education and awareness. Many NHRIs serve as national preventative mechanisms (NPM) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) with specific mandates and responsibilities.   Other NHRIs prevent and fight torture in their daily application of their broad mandate addressing situations of persons with special vulnerability, including children, women, older persons, migrants and persons deprived of their liberty.  

In October 2022, GANHRI’s Bureau decided to dedicate its 14th International Conference to discuss the role of NHRIs in preventing and fighting Torture and other forms of ill-treatment. This timely decision comes in a historical moment for human rights defenders everywhere, including NHRIs. The celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Principles and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights throughout this year are an opportunity for NHRIs to individually, and collectively as GANHRI, share good practices and make a commitment to join forces in addressing this grave human rights violation. 

As global network of all NHRIs, GANHRI provides a unique platform to promote and support this exchange among NHRIs at the global level, and an avenue for NHRIs to seek peer advice and to facilitate support to NHRIs from partners.  


The Knowledge Exchange session of GANHRI’s Annual Meeting is an opportunity for NHRIs to come together and share best practices, knowledge, challenges and experiences in addressing incidents of torture and ill-treatment in their respective countries.  

The event will also serve to identify NHRI priorities in this work, which in turn will further inform preparations for the upcoming 14th GANHRI International Conference on this topic. 

The event will examine experiences of NHRIs in implementing their mandates and functions and discuss promising practices and innovative approaches developed by NHRIs to overcome these challenges, including: 

  • Investigating torture and ill-treatment, handling complaints, and monitoring all places of deprivation of liberty including prisons, long-term care facilities, and other places, in line with international standards 
  • Reporting on situations, including at national level and to United Nations anti-torture mechanisms such as 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. 
  • Advising   the   state   and   authorities, building   long-term   dialogue   and   trusted relationships, and conducting human rights education and training for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment  
  • Establishing  and  cooperating  with  effective  and  independent NPMs:  advocating  as NHRIs for CAT and OPCAT ratification, advising state authorities on the designation of an effective,  independent  and  well-resourced NPM,  NHRIs  as  NPMs,  NHRI-NPM cooperation, cooperation with SPT and other UN mechanisms  
  • Addressing risks and needs of people at risk of torture including people in detention, persons on the move, women, children and older persons. 
  • Engaging with and supporting victims, and working with those who defend their rights. 
  • Committing to work together, as a collective voice through GANHRI, in sharing good practices, reporting and advocating against torture and ill-treatment. 


15:00-15:05: Welcome and opening remarks

  • Amina Bouayach, GANHRI Secretary

15:05-16:20: Breakout Groups Discussions per language, guided by lead questions and co-facilitators


  • Chief Commissioner Khunan Jargalsaikhan (NHRI Mongolia) and Ben Buckland Senior Advisor, Oversight (APT)
  • Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher (Australia NHRI) and Juvenal Babona, Africa fellow (APT). 
  •  Marie Claire Mukasine- Chairperson (Rwanda NHRI) and Jasmine Zik-Ikeorha, Senior Advisor Learning Development and Outreach (APT).
  • Tamar Gvaramadze – First Deputy Public Defender (NHRI Georgia) and Valentina Cadelo,  Senior Legal Advisor (APT)
  • Ravi Afonso Pereira, deputy Ombdusman (Portugal NHRI) Carolina Crittin -human rights officer (GANHRI).
  • M.Yaovi SRONVIE president of Togo NHRI and Luce Ahouangnimon Senior Advisor, Detention and Mobilisation (APT) 
  • National Human Rights Council of Madagascar and Izabella Majcher, Legal Advisor (APT).  
  • Raquel de GuevaraHuman Rights Public Prosecutor (NHRI El Salvador), and Almudena Garcia, Communications Advisor (APT)
  • Samar Haj Hasan- Chairperson of Border of Trustees (Jordan NHRI) and tbc 

Lead Questions:

  1. Which are the most significant achievements and priorities of your NHRI in addressing torture and ill treatment and ensuring that the rights of victims of torture and ill treatment are protected and upheld?
  2. What are the challenges you are facing as NHRI on this topic? What are the specific challenges you are facing as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) and how can they be addressed?
  3. How are you as NHRI engaging with persons in situation of vulnerability that are at a heightened risk of suffering from torture and other ill-treatment? This may include children, older persons, women, persons on the move, and/or persons deprived of liberty.
  4. What are your strategies for working together and overcoming challenges in promoting human rights and preventing incidents of torture and ill-treatment? What role can civil society organizations, GANHRI, OHCHR, and other stakeholders play in supporting NHRIs in this effort?

16:20-16:55: Report back to plenary

16:55-17:00: Conclusions and closing by GANHRI Secretary Amina Bouayach