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Identifying good practice

Graphic: Participants at a training workshop organised by the Ambassador Oyunchimeg

While there was enormous variety in the focus of the Torture Prevention Ambassadors' country projects, a number of common elements emerged.

Our Good Practice Report expands further on what we learned.

Our hope is that sharing these good practices will inspire all NHRIs, in both the Asia Pacific region and across the globe, to redouble their efforts to prevent torture and ill-treatment in places of detention.

  1. Key individuals within NHRIs can be catalysts for institutional change and inspire broader commitment to torture prevention.
  2. Expert mentoring enhances the development of "actors for change".
  3. Peer-to-peer exchange is effective in sharing and building on good practices.
  4. Enhancing communication skills can equip NHRIs to influence public opinion on torture prevention.
  5. Developing constructive dialogue with authorities on prevention enhances impact.
  6. Every project should be designed with sustainability in mind.

Ambassador De Guia talking with police officers in the Philippines

"The impact of the Torture Prevention Ambassador Project was enormous. Engaging alone with the policemen and being able to dialogue about an unpopular topic is an achievement on its own."

Torture Prevention Ambassador Jacqueline De Guia
Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

The overall project was based on the understanding that an empowered individual can make a big impact. The results of the project have confirmed this approach.

The nine Torture Prevention Ambassadors have used their skills, expertise and drive to inspire, influence and partner with other individuals and organisations to produce tangible outcomes that will prevent torture and ill-treatment.

More broadly, this approach of empowering individuals as "actors for change" can be applied to other country and thematic contexts; for example, to tackle gender-based violence or promote the rights of people with disabilities.

Graphic: Four men sit on a single bed in a prison cell

Lessons learned

The pilot Torture Prevention Ambassadors project has delivered significant positive results, collectively and at the country level.

Each Ambassador completed their project on time, on budget, and with tangible impacts and positive outcomes. They also met all their documentation and self-evaluation requirements.

In reviewing the projects, and in discussion with the Torture Prevention Ambassadors, we identified a number of important lessons to apply to future projects.

  • NHRI representatives will be willing, able and enthusiastic to engage in torture prevention initiatives if they are provided with the structure, professional support and seed funding to do so.
  • Good mentoring enables NHRI representatives to develop strategic and operational skills in project planning and promotes the successful implementation of their activities.
  • An additional face-to-face meeting would help to further strengthen relationships between the Torture Prevention Ambassadors and with their project mentors.
  • A larger seed fund, a longer period to implement projects, arrangements for Ambassadors to be released from some of their regular NHRI duties and the allocation of additional NHRI support could help deliver greater impact.
  • Building translation services into the planning, funding and resourcing of the overall project will ensure the development of a rich set of torture prevention resources that can shared broadly within the Asia Pacific and other regions.
  • Future projects should be mindful of the language constraints of some participants and consider using interpretation services, or operating at a sub-regional level where a common non-English language may be used.

If torture prevention is to be pursued seriously, then a serious commitment of resources and priorities is required. You can do so much on a shoestring, but only so much.

Asia Pacific Forum Logo Chris Sidoti, Torture Prevention Mentor

Image credits

  1. Participants at a training workshop organised by the Ambassador Oyunchimeg - National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia
  2. Ambassador De Guia talking with police officers in the Philippines - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
  3. Four men sit on a single bed in a prison cell - APF/Michael Power