The APF's nine Torture Prevention Ambassadors recently met in Mongolia to share their progress in implementing a range of innovative projects to address the root causes of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention in their respective countries.
Now at the mid-way point for their projects, the Torture Prevention Ambassadors were able to reflect on some of the factors that had helped them make promising gains in their work.
One key ingredient for success, they said, was building strong partnerships with stakeholders, based on trust and respect.
Regular communication was an important element in cementing those relationships and explaining the different roles individuals and groups can play to prevent torture and ill-treatment
The projects being undertaken by Torture Prevention Ambassadors cover a wide range of focus areas, including:
- Promoting greater respect for the rights of people held in police lock ups, immigration detention centres, mental health wards and residential care facilities
- Encouraging ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
- Strengthening the ability of National Preventive Mechanisms to build cooperative relationships and generate systemic changes in places of detention
- Improving complaint handling systems for prisoners and studying complaints data to better inform training and policies for law enforcement officials.
The projects also feature different approaches and methodologies, including monitoring visits, investigations, training programs, capacity building and community awareness initiatives.
A joint initiative of the APF and the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project involves Commissioners and senior staff members from the national human rights institutions of Australia, South Korea, the Maldives, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines and Timor Leste.
The group first met in Sydney in November 2014. This second meeting was held on 29-30 August 2015 following the APF Biennial Conference, which explored the role of national human rights institutions to combat torture and ill treatment.
During the course of the two-day gathering, the Torture Prevention Ambassadors met with program mentors, Chris Sidoti and Professor Marco Mona, to discuss their projects.
"I was deeply impressed by the passion, dedication and commitment of all our ambassadors," Mr Sidoti said.
"In addition to delivering clear benefits to those held in places of detention in their respective countries, these projects will provide inspiration and practical ideas for national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific and across the world," he said.
Reports and case studies of all the projects will be released in the middle of 2016.
Learn more about the Torture Prevention Ambassadors
The Torture Prevention Ambassadors program is funded by the European Union, as part of the three-year APF project to strengthen the capacity of national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
More information and short video clips with the Torture Prevention Ambassadors are available on the website of the Association for the Prevention of Torture.