The World Organisation Against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture-OMCT) has launched a global initiative to mobilize civil society on implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). OMCT announced the launch at the reception held to mark the 52nd session of Committee Against Torture.
OMCT President, Yves Berthelot, said, “In the coming years we will undertake a concerted effort with our global network to mobilize local actors on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. Ultimately we will only succeed if we manage to generate local civil society support and build real constituencies for change.”
According to Berthelot, “The Committee has proven to be an important element in the global fight against torture. Its authoritative recommendations can make a real difference.” Though he expressed concern that “the Committee continues to face multiple challenges, such as late or non-reporting by states, a chronic lack of implementation on the part of state parties to the Convention, and the reluctance by states to disseminate and debate the results openly with society at home.”
In addressing the challenges, the OMCT said it will support civil society access to the Committee’s proceedings including from difficult countries. It will also provide support, policy advise and mentoring to defenders from the field. In addition, the OMCT will implement new and innovative ways to ensure that the reporting process is discussed in the countries concerned, and a coherent and systematic follow-up to the Committee’s recommendation is adhered to.
Berthelot said “we all have a responsibility to ensure that the legal obligations of the UN Convention of Torture do not only exist in law, but trigger real change for people around the world threatened with violence and torture.”
OMCT said it will conduct in depth and sustained advocacy on the implementation of the Convention in six focus countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Togo, Mexico and Colombia. The initiative is implemented jointly with its members of the SOS torture network in the six partner countries. It includes authoritative research on torture, national consultations on legal reforms, effective victims support and remedies and public outreach to generate support for anti-torture reforms.
The OMTC is the world’s largest coalition of non-governmental organisations fighting against arbitrary detention, torture, summary and extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and other forms of violence. The global network consists of almost 300 local, national and regional organisations, which share the goal of eradicating torture and fostering respect of human rights for all.
The OMCT’s Prevention of Torture programme helps its members prevent and report torture by strengthening their capacity through the SOS-Torture network to use United Nations human rights mechanisms. The programme submits alternative reports to UN Committees in collaboration with local NGOs, provides support for individuals and organisations wishing to challenge torture practices in international legal fora and publishes a practical guide on international and regional conventional mechanisms relevant to torture.