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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Universal ratification, enforcement of torture ban imperative says APT SG

Past ten years’ advances suggest next ten years’ achievements doable
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

The past ten years of work have brought 65 States to ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. Twenty-one have signed. Forty-six are established National Prevention Mechanisms (NPMs). A UN Committee of 25 experts (SPT) works with NPMs and States Parties to implement the Protocol.

This week 127 members of the United Nations in a majority vote adopted the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), thus establishing a new system of preventing torture through regular monitoring of all places of detention.
Remaining is universal ratification, says Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) Secretary General and 2004 recipient of the British Honor of OBE for work on human rights, Mark Thomson.

In today’s APT blog “From midnight to the morning light,” Thomson declares that over the next ten years of collective international campaign it is doable to achieve universal ratification of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT), the OPCAT, and their effective application. His belief, he says, is based on these advances of the past ten years. 
The world has faced the fact that the risk of torture and ill-treatment exists in all countries of the world.
UN human rights bodies and mechanisms have evolved and brought to light every country’s profile in implementing international human rights norms; and the Universal Periodic Review has published a regular recommendation of States to fellow States: ratify and implement the two anti-torture treaties. 
The human rights movement has developed in promising directions: the strengthening of National human rights institutions (NHRIs: administrative bodies set up to protect or monitor human rights in a given country), NGOs, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ─ almost all having taken an active interest in ending torture.  
Traditional and social media have brought to light atrocities inside places of detention, prompting vital public debate on penal policies.  
Regional Human Rights mechanisms have raised the significance of the challenge and have contributed to bringing the responsibility of this issue directly to States authorities. 

Flags of States
Geneva, Switzerland
Still, the APT Secretary General concludes that collective, sustained action is vital.

 major new, concerted global action is imperative and will require politicians, media, civil society continuing to prod States into action as well as the conjoined efforts of a much broader variety of actors intent on obtaining a truly universal commitment to eradicate torture and other ill-treatment.

Sources and notes

“From midnight to the morning light” (Mark Thomson APT blog), December 18, 2012, http://www.apt.ch/en/history-of-the-opcat-1/

Mark Thomson

Secretary General of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) since April 2001, Mark Thomson has worked 30 years with international development and human rights NGOs.

He has given presentations and training, on human rights and prevention of torture, in all regions of the world; and has established partnerships in prevention with governments, national human rights commissions, police authorities, NGOs and United Nations experts and agencies.

Mark Thomson has contributed to the drafting, adoption and implementation of several human rights instruments such as: the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the subsequent Special Representative; the Optional Protocol for the UN Convention against Torture; the revised United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) rules on consultations with NGOs.

In 2004 Thomson received the British Honor of OBE for his human rights work. He took his academic credentials in Fiji and the UK (MA London, BA Essex), http://www.apt.ch/en/in-switzerland/


A founding UN Charter body established in 1946, ECOSOC is concerned with the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges. The Council discusses and debates such issues and makes policy recommendations.


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