Activities as Commissioner
REPORT OF THE FOLLOW UP COMMITTEE ON THE ROBBEN ISLAND GUIDELINES
The Follow Up Committee on the Robben Island Guidelines on prohibition and prevention of torture undertook the following activities during the intersession.
When I attended the seminar that was organized by the Inter Parliamentary Union, Association for the Prevention of Torture and the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, Switzerland, two other members of the Follow Up Committee were also attending the seminar.
The other members were Mr Jean- Baptiste Niyizurugero, the Vice Chairperson of the Comittee and Ms. Leila Zerrougui. The APT arranged a meeting between the three members of the African Commission’s Follow Up Committee on the Implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines (RIG Committee) with Professor. Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The meeting took place on the 26 th September 2006.
The following persons participated in the meeting:
- Prof. Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (Special Rapporteur)
- Mr. Safir Syed from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Assistant of the Special Rapporteur
- Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Member of the RIG Committee
- Ms. Sanji Monageng , Commissioner to the African Commission, Chairperson of the RIG Committee
- Mr. Mark Thomson, APT Secretary Genera
- Mr. Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero , APT Africa Programme Officer, Vice-Chair of the RIG Committee
The meeting discussed possibilities of collaboration between the Special Rapporteur and the RIG Committee as well as the African Commission in General. The Special Rapporteur responded enthusiastically to the suggestion of a possible meeting with the African Commission members, African NGOs as well as members of the RIG Committee during the upcoming 40 th session of the African Commission, due to take place from 15 to 29 November 2006.
It was also agreed that the NGO Forum, prior to the session of the African Commission would be the most appropriate opportunity for the Special Rapporteur to meet with African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
The following possible aspects of cooperation between the RIG Committee and the Special Rapporteur were also identified:
- Sharing information and reports on particular countries in Africa
- Cooperation on follow-up to recommendations issued by the Special Rapporteur and/or the African Commission
- Special Rappporteur to promote the Robben Island Guidelines in his country visits as well as in his general reports
- Joint in situ missions
- Reciprocal visits and experience sharing
- Special Rapporteur to encourage African States to take measures to prevent torture through the implementation of the RIGs
- Assistance of Special Rapporteur in encouraging States to pilot the in implemention of the RIGs
- Assistance of the Special Rapporteur for the publication and dissemination of the RIG Ouagadougou Recommendations
- When participating in workshops, seminars, the Special Rapporteur to promote RIG in his presentations or by suggesting issuance of invitation to RIG Committee member(s).
- Promotion of the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol as part of RIG.
- Joint missions
- Capacity building
- It was also agreed that consideration should be given to holding a joint seminar to sensitise stakeholders on RIGs in order to assess the work of the Follow Up Committee and to share the Action plan with stakeholders.
Conclusion and follow-up
All participants appreciated this constructive meeting and the following steps were suggested:
- Commissioner Monageng and Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero to write a letter to the Chairperson of the African Commission asking for the issuance of an invitation for the Special Rapporteur to the upcoming 40 th session of the African commission.
- Commissioner Monageng and Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero to write a letter to Ms. Hannah Forster asking for the Special Rapporteur to attend the NGO Forum and allocate space to the issue of torture on the agenda where the Special Rapporteur could interact with members of the African CSOs.
- Commissioner Monageng and Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero to write to the Special Rapporteur on specific issues he could help the RIG Committee with.
- Commissioner Monageng and Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero to inform other members of the RIG Committee about this meeting.
- Prepare for a meeting of RIG Committee members with the Special Rapporteur during the upcoming session of the African Commission.
I should note that all the above tasks have been discharged and that the Special Rapporteur will be in Banjul for the Session.
Meeting with Mrs O. Ige
On the 23 rd September 2006, I met informally with Mrs Ige from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Switzerland. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit her views on how her office could assist the Follow Up Committee on the implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines, in the discharge of its mandate and in actualizing its programmes per its terms of reference.
Mrs Ige indicated that there was no specific funding for this type of assistance and said that the only funds that they have are for the support of torture victims.
It was, however, agreed that, for what it is worth, the Committee, through the Secretariat of the Commission should submit a budget to her office for onward transmission to the Fund Managers. It was also understood that this would be an ordinary enquiry.
I should also note that the Committee continues receiving reports of torture and this is a very worrying situation.
On a general note, efforts to find financing for the work of the Committee continue. The Committee is also looking to the African Union for support. It is also pertinent to note
that a Plan of Action has been developed, that activities and programmes have been identified and that some countries have expressed a wish to host some of the activities of
the Committee. One such envisaged activity is training of law enforcement agencies on the Robben Island Guidelines.
I wish to restate the need for the Committee to be supported financially if it is to carry out its mandate effectively.