Workshop Outline

The workshop was designed to be highly interactive and participatory. A thematic panel format provided the point of departure for discussion with Defensorías practitioners, as well as external experts, invited to share their insights. In order to foster coherence among papers within and across each session, the conveners elaborated the following set of guiding themes and questions. Panels focused on five thematic questions:

I. Prevention and Response to Torture: International Standards and their Operationalization

This panel addressed the question: what obligations do States have to prevent torture? It developed the absolute prohibition of torture that arises from an array of international treaties, customary law and jurisprudence. It further outlined what obligations fall on States (and NHRIs) to take positive measures to prevent its occurrence.

NHRIs are mandated by the Paris Principles to encourage ratification of international human rights instruments and their effective implementation. Drawing further on the Paris Principles, what is the legal basis for NHRI involvement in the prevention of torture?

What does torture prevention and response mean? Drawing on the work of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the panel explored modalities of both prevention and response with emphasis on their timing, strategic implications, and methodologies.

As the Optional Protocol to the CAT (OPCAT) continues to make an impact within domestic jurisdictions: what are the implications for Defensorías in Latin America in promoting, monitoring and implementing this new international instrument? What are the key formal design and resource issues that arise in considering NHRI-designation as national preventive mechanisms under OPCAT?

Moderator: Roberto P. Saba, Decano de la Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Palermo

Santiago Cantón, Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos

Maria José Urgel, Directora Adjunta de la Oficina para América Latina de la Asociación para la Prevención de la Tortura (APT)

Presentación: “Prevención de la tortura en América Latina: el Protocolo Facultativo de la Convención contra la Tortura de la Naciones Unidas”

Richard Carver, Universidad de Oxford Brookes, Reino Unido

Presentación: “Tortura, Derecho Internacional y la Enigma de la Prevención”

II. NHRI Engagement with the UPR and other International Mechanisms (‘Opportunities and Challenges’)

Interaction with the UPR is important for the prevention of torture. To what extent can NHRI advocacy within the UPR process assist in channelling international pressure to effect change in the behaviour of rights violating states? What further insights can be drawn from a focus on interaction with other UN agencies and mechanisms including the treaty body system, the Committee against Torture, the Human Rights Committee and individual Rapporteurs, in particular the Special Rapporteur on Torture?

If the UPR (and international mechanisms more generally) are limited in their ability to enforce international torture prevention standards, how might a focus on NHRIs further facilitate human rights enforcement strategy?

The ability of NHRIs to report to the UPR has been hailed as a deepening of engagement. To what extent is this characterization accurate? To advance policy analysis in this area, what are the opportunities, trade-offs and alternative strategies that NHRIs might employ to navigate the UPR process?

How has the incorporation of NHRIs into the UPR process impacted upon the everyday content and resulting function of Defensorías in Latin America? Can such rights advocacy secure results within domestic jurisdictions? How might Defensorías best approach implementation of UPR recommendations, the recommendations of relevant international committees and Special Rapporteurs?

Moderator: Lucía I. Gómez Fernández, Instituto de Políticas Públicas en Derechos Humanos del Mercosur

Amerigo Incalcaterra, Representante Regional, Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos

Paula Salvo del Canto, Abogada de Dirección, Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos de Chile

Presentación: “El papel del INDH en la prevención de la tortura”

Elena López, Procuradora Especial de Cárceles, Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos Nicaragüense

Presentación: “Examen Periódico Universal: Análisis del Cumplimiento del Estado de Nicaragua y la Fiscalización de la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos”

Larry Devoe, Director General de Servicios Jurídicos, Defensor del Pueblo Venezolano

III. Prevention – Access to Information and Monitoring State Compliance

In terms of promotion, what types of legal reforms should Defensorías promote in relation to the prevention of torture? In particular, have Defensorías been successful in codifying torture as a crime within the domestic penal code? How can NHRIs effectively lobby governments to ensure transparency of places of detention?

What are the challenges of monitoring places of detention, especially in remote areas? What are the key power and capacity issues that arise in devising a proactive program of monitoring places of detention? How can Defensorías best balance the competing demands of complaint-handling and visitation?

In terms of access to information, what innovative methods can be deployed to record and encourage official disclosure of places of detention? How do Defensorías verify what they have received from victims of torture and, more generally, all reported incidences of torture and does such record collection follow a standardised methodology?

What is the relationship of the OPCAT and non-OPCAT functions of Defensorías? For instance, what special provisions have Defensorías made to address group-based concerns (such as the protection of children, women, persons with HIV/AIDs etc.) which may have important implications for the prevention of torture? How might we distinguish between the different but related functions of Defensorías?

What training activities have Defensorías undertaken with State officials? What has been their direct and indirect (i.e. organizational and/or cultural) impact? How receptive have officials been to codes of practice based on obligations arising under international law? For instance, is there a code of conduct for interrogation by police officials and are they sufficiently accountable?

Moderator: Alberto Volpi, Director del Área Judicial, Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación, Argentina

Patricia Montero Villalobos, Profesional, Mecanismo Nacional de Prevención, Defensoría de los Habitantes Costarricense

Presentación: “El Mecanismo Nacional de Prevención: la experiencia de Costa Rica en la prevención de la tortura”

Humberto Luna, Procurador para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos Salvadoreña

Presentación: “Prevención- Acceso a la Información y el Control del Estado: El caso de El Salvador”

Guillermo Andrés G. Aguirre Aguilar, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos Mexicana

Presentación: “Acciones del Mecanismo Nacional de Prevención de la Tortura en ejercicio de las facultades del Protocolo Facultativo de la Convención de la Tortura”

IV. Response – Modes of Intervention and Effective Remedies for Torture Victims Including Specific Criminal Accountability Measures

What are the key challenges confronted by Defensorías in investigating claims of torture? What has been the experience of Defensorías in both acting upon victim’s testimony of torture and proactively initiating investigations where they believe torture or ill-treatment may be occurring?

What are the evidentiary priorities for Defensorías in investigating claims of torture? Do Latin American offices have specialised technical staff trained in undertaking effective investigations of torture (for instance forensic and psychiatric expertise)? What does such training entail and to what extent is it generally applicable to Defensorías officials operating in other countries?

In contexts of political and institutional instability, what are some of the key structural, political and cultural risk factors faced by Defensoría personnel undertaking such investigations? How do these differ from more highly structured and stable settings?

What are the prospects for successful prosecution of torture across countries? How can Defensorías best mobilise their resources to achieve justice for victims? What are the possible trade-offs (for instance, in terms of finite resource allocation or organizational endangerment) associated with seeking punitive measures against alleged torturers?

Moderator: Constanza Galli, Gerente de Proyectos de Cooperación, Embajada Británica Buenos Aires

Carmen Lozano Quintero, Asesora de la Defensoría del Pueblo para la Política Criminal y Penitenciaria, Defensor del Pueblo Colombiano

Presentación: “La Tortura en la legislación Colombiana y las obligaciones del Estado”

Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado, Procurador Nacional de los Derechos Humanos Guatemalteco

Presentación entregada y circulada a los participantes: Informe al Comité contra la Tortura de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas en el marco del examen periódico al Estado de Guatemala

Alvaro Garcé, Comisionado Parlamentario de Cárceles de la Republica de Uruguay

Presentación: “Monitoreo de los lugares de detención y prevención de la tortura en Uruguay: seguimiento de las correspondientes recomendaciones del E.P.U.”

V. NHRIs and Relations with Other Local and International Stakeholders in the Prevention of Torture

How can NHRIs that are not designated as a national preventive mechanism cooperate with the Optional Protocol’s bodies?

To what extent can interaction between enforcement agencies (the courts, prosecutors and other auxiliary bodies) contribute to the effective investigation and prosecution of torturers through formal channels?

Are the legal, judicial and rights strategies pursued by NHRIs and other legal and accountability agencies, including civil society, within and outside the state mutually reinforcing or prone to tension?

What are the main domestic legal and contextual factors that influence the ways in which human rights norms are interpreted, adopted and adapted, or indeed resisted, by these actors?

Moderator: Eduardo Bertoni, Director, CELE, Universidad de Palermo

Ramón Custodio López, Comisionado Nacional de Protección de los Derechos Humanos Hondureño

Presentación: INDDHH y sus relaciones con otros actores locales e internacionales en la prevención de la tortura: el caso Hondureño

Manuel Maria Páez Monges, Defensor del Pueblo Paraguayo

Presentación: “La Defensoría del Pueblo de Paraguay y sus relaciones con otros Actores en la Prevención de la Tortura”

 José Ávila Herrera, Jefe del Programa para Asuntos Penales y Penitenciarios, Defensor del Pueblo Peruano

Presentación: INDDHH y sus relaciones con otros actores locales e internacionales en la prevención de la tortura: el caso Peruano

Commentator: Paula Litvachky, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

VI. Roundtable on NHRIs and Implementation of UPR Recommendations Relating to Torture Prevention

General reflections on meeting proceedings and discussion of Meeting Declaration and Action Points