Graphic: Ambassador Sidonios with Chris Sidoti, TPA mentor
The Torture Prevention Ambassadors project was based on the understanding that there are many different factors that lead to torture and ill treatment and they are often highly dependent on the human rights situation in each country.
NHRIs know their local context and the human rights issues facing different groups in the community. They operate independent from government and have a role that is distinct from civil society. They have a legal mandate to promote and protect human rights, which often include powers to monitor places of detention.
This project sought to utilise that local knowledge and those unique tools to explore what approaches work best in preventing torture and ill treatment.
A merit-based selection process was used to appoint nine Torture Prevention Ambassadors, representing NHRIs from seven countries across the region: Australia (two), Maldives, Mongolia (two), New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea and Timor Leste.
The Torture Prevention Ambassadors were tasked with planning and implementing a project to counter the root causes of torture and ill treatment in their respective countries.
They were assigned an expert mentor to provide support and advice, they received training on project management and communication, and they developed additional skills on the technical dimensions of torture prevention.
Importantly, the Torture Prevention Ambassadors also received a small amount of seed funding to implement their projects.
At the conclusion of their 18-month projects, each could point to tangible outcomes that would ultimately benefit persons deprived of their liberty.
By providing Torture Prevention Ambassadors with guidance, technical support and funding, as well as the opportunity to meet with a network of peers, our project encouraged innovative approaches to torture prevention. Many emerged and a number of good practices were identified.
Their NHRIs also benefited through the knowledge, expertise and relationships that developed during the course of the project.
The key stages in the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project are set out below. We believe it is a methodology that can be applied to address other pressing human rights issues in the Asia Pacific region.
Find out more about the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project, and the different country-level initiatives, in our Good Practice Report.
Implementing the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project
Stage 1: Merit-based selection of Torture Prevention Ambassadors (September 2014)
All APF member institutions are invited to nominate an outstanding candidate. Candidates submit an application, including a statement outlining a concept for a project they would seek to implement.
Stage 2: Initial meeting: Sydney, Australia (November 2014)
Torture Prevention Ambassadors gather at a four-day workshop to meet one other and their project mentors, as well as receive expert training in torture prevention, project planning and communication skills. They each develop an implementation plan for their individual projects, with objectives, activities, timeframes, budget and expected results.
Stage 3: Torture Prevention Ambassadors implement individual projects (November 2014 – August 2015)
Torture Prevention Ambassadors finalise their project plans and begin to implement them. Seed funding of EUR 5,000 is provided to each project, with some Ambassadors obtaining additional financial or in-kind support from their NHRIs. Regular updates with mentors by email or Skype are held to discuss unexpected challenges and to refine their approach.
Step 4: Mid-project meeting: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (August 2015)
Torture Prevention Ambassadors meet for a three-day workshop, with three participants sharing their projects with over 150 delegates on the final day of the APF Biennial Conference, which focused on the theme of torture prevention. At the workshop, the Ambassadors share project updates, meet one-on-one with mentors and further develop their project communication skills; a direct outcome is the publication of a blog by each Ambassador on the APT website.
Step 5: Project completion, including self-review and evaluation (August 2015 – February 2016)
Torture Prevention Ambassadors complete a report on the outcomes of their individual projects, including their own self-review and evaluation.
Step 6: Final meeting and report launch: Geneva, Switzerland (June 2016)
The final meeting allows Torture Prevention Ambassadors to jointly review and evaluate good practices, lessons learned and next steps, for both their individual projects and the broader Torture Prevention Ambassadors project. A side-event at the UN Human Rights Council is held to share good practices with other NHRIs and stakeholders.
The APT sets out a three-stage approach to countering torture and ill-treatment in its House of Prevention graphic.
- Ambassador Sidonios with Chris Sidoti, TPA mentor - Rosita Ericsson/APT
- Ambassador De Guia tolding her report on torture prevention activities in the Philippines - APT/Rosita Ericsson
- Guard closes prison gate - Michael Power/APF