The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture 2012 visits to Latin America

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture 2012 visits to Latin America

During the first half of 2012, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) carried out two visits to the Latin American region in the context of its preventive visiting and advisory mandate under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

Visit to Argentina

From 18 to 27 April 2012, the SPT conducted its first regular visit to Argentina, focusing the geographic scope of the visit on the Province of Buenos Aires and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. The SPT held meetings with the relevant national and provincial authorities, as well as with members of civil society organizations. In total, the SPT carried out visits to 24 places of deprivation of liberty: eight penitentiary institutions, ten police stations, two facilities for children and adolescents in conflict with the law, and four psychiatric establishments.

Regarding the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), which remains an outstanding obligation of Argentina under article 17 of the OPCAT, the Head of the SPT Delegation, Víctor Rodríguez-Rescia, noted that the creation of an NPM in Argentina would be an opportunity to enhance and monitor the recommendations of the SPT visit for the future through the federal NPM that is envisaged, as well as through the provincial mechanisms that have already been or are being created.

The preliminary observations of the SPT on its visit were presented during confidential meetings with the provincial and national authorities at the conclusion of the visit on 27 April 2012. The final report on the visit, containing the SPT’s observations and recommendations, will be transmitted in confidence to the Argentinian authorities. In accordance with OPCAT article 16, Argentina can request the subsequent publication of the SPT report.

The SPT Delegation to Argentina was composed of the following SPT members: Víctor Rodríguez-Rescia (Head of Delegation), Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Emilio Ginés-Santidrián, Zdenek Hajek, Lowell Goddard and Miguel Sarre. The Delegation was accompanied by OHCHR staff members, and the mission was supported by the United Nations system in Argentina.

NPM advisory visit to Honduras

From 30 April to 4 May 2012, the SPT conducted its first ever NPM-advisory mission to Honduras. The SPT is mandated by article 11.b) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture to advise and assist national preventive mechanisms (NPM) in the evaluation of the needs and the means necessary to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and to make recommendations and observations to the States Parties with a view to strengthening the capacity and the mandate of the NPM.

In addition to providing advice and assistance regarding the NPM in Honduras, the SPT visit to Honduras reviewed the implementation of the recommendations made by the SPT after its previous mission to the country, which took place in September 2009.

During its mission, the SPT held high level meetings with Government officials, civil society, and with the NPM. The SPT devoted a large part of its visit to advise and provide technical assistance to the Honduran NPM, with which it jointly visited places of detention and carried out interviews with persons deprived of their liberty.

Among the places of deprivation of liberty visited was the Comayagua prison, which burnt during the night of 14 February 2012, causing more than 360 deaths.

The members that participated to the SPT mission to Honduras were Mario Coriolano (Head of Delegation), Zbigniew Lasocik, Hans Petersen and Maria Margarida Pressburger. They were assisted by OHCHR staff members, and counted with the support of the office of the OHCHR Human Rights Advisor to the UN Country Team in Honduras.

Extract from: Human Rights Treaties Division Newsletter, No’s 16-17 April – September 2012

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