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Investigating allegations of torture

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Conducting timely, effective and independent investigations into allegations of torture will be the focus of a major regional training program.


Conducting timely, effective and independent investigations into allegations of torture will be the focus of a major regional training program open to representatives from all 22 APF member institutions.

In many countries, NHRIs are often the first – and sometimes the only – direct point of contact for victims of torture, especially where no other complaint mechanism is available or effective.

According to international standards, investigations of torture should be prompt, impartial, thorough and effective. In addition, the body conducting the investigation should be independent and readily accessible.

"While not every NHRI has investigative powers, all NHRIs are meant to take action when they receive allegations of torture and other forms of ill treatment, said Suraina Pasha, APF Regional Training Manager.

"This course will discuss what an effective investigation into torture looks like, as well as what kind of investigation might be required in different circumstances," she said.

The blended learning course, to be run jointly by the APF and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), will outline investigative techniques relevant both for NHRIs that conduct legal investigations and for those that work to document instances of torture.

The course will be led by Matthew Sands, APT Legal Advisor, who will be supported by medico-forensic experts from partner organisations.

The course will draw on Preventing Torture: An Operational Guide for National Human Rights Institutions, published by the APF, APT and OHCHR. There will also be a focus on the Istanbul Protocol and other relevant international standards pertaining to the documentation of torture.

The four week online course will take place from 16 March-10 April 2015.

It will be followed by a week-long regional workshop, to be organised in partnership with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and held in Manila from 20-24 April 2015.

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines was invited to host the workshop given its experience with the forensic investigation of human rights violations.

This blended learning course is part of a three-year series of activities funded by the European Union to strengthen the capacity of national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific region to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Other activities this year include the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project, as well as a training program on migrants in detention.

Date: 17 February 2015


Image credits

  1. Authority figure walking - APF, Michael Power