Representatives of civil society organisations from Europe and Africa attending the 7th African Union-European Union Civil Society Seminar on 28-29th October in Banjul, Gambia, produced a series of recommendations to tackle torture in Africa and Europe.
The representatives particularly encourage the EU and AU to:
- Address torture and ill-treatment in a comprehensive manner (prevention, accountability and rehabilitation).
- Develop national Action Plans and indicators for the implementation of the CAT General Comment No 3 and, regarding AU Member States, ACHPR General Comment No 4.
- Conduct a study on models and policies for the establishment and financing of rehabilitation services with a view to supporting AU and EU Member States to ensure all torture victims rights to rehabilitation.
- Develop policies, protocols and capacity to systematically identify torture victims among asylum seekers.
- Investigate promptly, thoroughly and independently all allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and to prosecute those responsible; state officials in charge of investigations shall receive the appropriate training and resources, including by applying standards contained in the Istanbul Protocol.
Torture and ill-treatment are a reality on both continents and committed in a range of contexts, including in the fight against terrorism, general policing, detention, imprisonment, as well as during conflict. Torture and ill-treatment are cross-cutting issues in practically all human rights work, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, rights of women and minorities, protection of human rights defenders, enforced disappearances, rights of refugees and migrants and the shrinking space for civil society. Perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment frequently benefit from impunity and victims on both continents struggle to obtain full redress.
This was the first AU-EU Civil Society Seminar specifically focusing on eradicating torture and ill-treatment and ensuring redress for victims on both continents, in inter-continental relations and at multilateral level. It is a strong and encouraging sign of the commitment of both the EU and AU on this crucial issue.
Following discussions on the prevention of use of torture, provision of rehabilitation services to victims, the prosecution and sanction of torture, as well as the fight against torture and impunity in foreign policies and cooperation, the participants agreed that the problem is not the absence of Human Rights standards but the lack of implementation.
The complete list of recommendations will soon be available on the web site of the Africa-EU partnership