Promoting the prevention of torture in places of deprivation of liberty: CPTA organizes workshop on the effective functioning of the National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty of Senegal

    As part of its torture prevention efforts on the African continent, the Committee for the Prevention of torture in Africa (CPTA) has been encouraging African States to ratify and effectively implement the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The OPCAT establishes a system of regular visits by independent international and national mechanisms, to places of deprivation of liberty in order to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment. At the international level, the OPCAT establishes the Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture and States Parties are expected to set up National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) to undertake regular visits to places of detention.

    Senegal ratified the OPCAT on 18 October 2006 and in 2009, adopted a law instituting the National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (ONLPL) as its NPM. The law entered into force in March 2009 and following this, the Senegalese Cabinet recently on 16 June 2011, adopted the implementation decree of the law instituting the ONLPL. It is within the context of the adoption of this decree that the CPTA in collaboration with the West African Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Association for the Prevention of Torture (Geneva), Amnesty International - Senegal and the Senegalese Ministry of Justice, organized a two days workshop on the effective functioning of the ONLPL, from 18 - 19 July 2011 in Dakar, Senegal.

    The main objective of the workshop was to exchange ideas and formulate concrete recommendations in order to ensure the effective functioning of the ONLPL in the discharge of its mandate of preventing torture in Senegal, as well as advocating for the prompt appointment of an independent, qualified, credible and human rights committed person to the position of National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty. The workshop provided an opportunity for the CPTA to vulgarize the Guidelines and Measures on the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa or the Robben Island Guidelines (RIG) and to propose concrete ways through which the ONLPL could cooperate with the CPTA and use the Robben Island Guidelines in its torture prevention efforts.

    During the workshop, participants analyzed the institutional and legislative framework of the ONLPL and its conformity with the OPCAT, raised a number of weaknesses in this framework and came up with concrete recommendations to be transmitted to the Government of Senegal, in order to help enhance the effectiveness of the ONLPL when it becomes fully functional.

    The workshop was officially opened by the Secretary General in the Ministry of Justice of Senegal, representing the Minister of Justice and brought together representatives of various government ministries, the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal, Parliament, the police, Gendarmerie, the penitentiary, the media and a host of civil society organizations in Senegal as well as the Focal Point for Africa of the UN Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

    A detailed report of the proceedings of the workshop will be made available on our website in due course

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      Date: 22 July 2011

      Commissioners: Catherine Dupe Atoki

      Special Mechanism: Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa

      States: Senegal

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