Despite being prohibited under international law, torture is widespread throughout the world. Acts that amount to torture are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity,* whose role is supposed to uphold the law in favour of people’s rights . Legal professionals are essential to ensuring that reports of torture are properly documented ad investigated, perpetrators are brought to justice, and victims are acknowledged and receive integral reparations.
The IBAHRI focuses on torture prevention training and technical assistance, as part of its ongoing work regarding human rights and the administration of justice. Through these activities, the IBAHRI facilitates a holistic understanding of the content and use of international tools and standards by legal stakeholders and National and Local Torture Preventive Mechanisms, promotes prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of torture and ill treatment, and advocates for the independence of forensic services from law enforcement agencies.
* Definition of Torture: UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: ‘Article 1 - 1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.’
Responding to Torture: Latin American perspectives on a Global Challenge
Responding to Torture: Latin American perspectives on a Global Challenge brings together articles by an extraordinary group of multidisciplinary professionals who have worked alongside the IBAHRI in recent years, promoting the effective prevention, documentation and investigation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the region. The book represents the commitment of the IBAHRI and the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations of the Externado de Colombia University to narrow the gap between relevant international standards and debates and domestic norms and socio-political contexts in Latin America.
The book is divided into two parts. Part 1, comprised of five chapters, examines the significant gaps that exist between the formal commitments of Latin American states to the eradication of torture and the practice of torture in the region. Over four chapters in Part 2, human rights experts highlight the potential for political and institutional innovation in the fight against torture.
Throughout the book, it is recognised that the fight against torture in Latin America presents challenges that require multidimensional responses, but also socio-political will and feasibility. The text highlights that while advocating for the adoption of robust legal protections is important, safeguards alone are insufficient to reduce the incidence of torture.
The authors of this book recognise that the production and dissemination of legal, academic and scientific resources on torture have taken place primarily in English to-date. Therefore, to ensure accessibility to Spanish speakers, this book is available in Spanish. An Executive Summary is available in English.
Development of a Set of Guidelines on Non-Coercive Interviewing and Procedural Safeguards
In March 2016, Human Rights Council Resolution 31/31 (A/HRC/31/L.26/Rev.1) called for the implementation of safeguards to prevent torture during police custody and pre-trial detention. In October 2016, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez presented his thematic report to General Assembly (A/71/298) calling for the development of a universal protocol on investigative interviewing and attendant legal safeguards.
In this context, the Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI), Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) launched of a process to develop a set of guidelines for non-coercive interviewing by law-enforcement officers, and attendant legal and procedural safeguards. The aim is to ensure that persons detained and questioned for investigative purposes are not subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment.
The process is led by a Steering Committee composed of 15 experts and practitioners in the fields of criminal justice, law enforcement, psychology, human rights and torture prevention: Ray Bull, Mark Fallon, Veronica Hinestroza, Juan E. Méndez, Zaza Namoradze, Gavin Oxburgh, Pau Perez-Sales, Asbjørn Rachlew, Therese Maria Rytter, Mary Schollum, Rebecca Shaeffer, Ruth Ssekindi, Lilian Stein, Sean Tait, and Mark Thomson.
This video (in Spanish) features IBAHRI Senior Programme Law Veronica Hinestroza, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and Psychiatrist Dr. Pau Perez-Sales in conversation about the initiative.
Steering Committee ‘Call to support guidelines improving law enforcement practices’
Development of a Supplement to the Istanbul Protocol
The IBAHRI is taking part in the development of a supplement to the Istanbul Protocol. The project started in February 2018 and aims to strengthen the Protocol with updates and clarifications based on practical experience and the needs of Protocol stakeholders. It will be finalised in 2019, and is being led by Physicians for Human Rights, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, REDRESS, the UN Committee against Torture, UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
Previous to this process, in March 2017, working with the Anti-Torture Initiative of the Washington College of Law, and with the support of the British Embassy in México, the IBAHRI brought together international and national experts for a two-day meeting in Mexico City on ‘Cross-Regional Perspectives on Implementation and the Enhancement of the Istanbul Protocol’.
The experts discussed the role of the Istanbul Protocol in combating torture and lessons learned from its implementation in a number of jurisdictions. Among other relevant issues, the experts addressed, questions regarding the legal prohibitions of torture and other ill-treatment; the implementation of effective legal, administrative, and judicial safeguards against torture; the undertaking of forensic medical evaluations; and prospects for advocacy, training, and monitoring, as well as ongoing efforts by relevant stakeholders around the world to strengthen and enhance the Istanbul Protocol.
The Istanbul Protocol is a set of international UN standards for the effective investigation and documentation of torture and for the reporting of these findings to the judiciary and other investigating bodies.
These two videos present conversations with key global experts, who attended the two-day meeting, on how the Istanbul Protocol can be used effectively, some of the challenges that medical and legal professionals face in its implementation, and reflections on the future of this practical tool.
The Istanbul Protocol is a set of international United Nations standards for the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and for the reporting of these findings to the judiciary and other investigating bodies.
In these two videos, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and the Anti-Torture Initiative of the Washington College of Law present conversations with key global experts on how the Istanbul Protocol can be used effectively, some of the challenges that medical and legal professionals face in its implementation, and reflections on the future of the Istanbul Protocol.
IBAHRI and ATI call on Brazil to repeal Presidential Decree that weakens National Preventive Mechanism
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) express great concern and condemnation for the decision by the Brazilian government to severely limit the work of Brazil’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), dangerously reducing protections for individuals deprived of their liberty.
IBAHRI e ATI requerem que Brasil revogue o Decreto Presidencial que desmantela o Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção e Combate à Tor
A Instituto de Direitos Humanos da Associação Internacional de Advogados (“IBAHRI”) e o Iniciativa Anti-tortura (“ATI”) expressam grande preocupação e condenam a decisão do Governo brasileiro de estabelecer severas limitações ao trabalho do Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção e Combate à Tortura (“Mecanismo Nacional”). A medida representa uma perigosa redução da proteção dos indivíduos privados de liberdade.
News release, Tuesday 12 November 2018. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has released a video on torture prevention in Brazil in which local stakeholders and international experts provide opinion about the historical background of torture in the country, and the current challenges for its prevention and prosecution. The video also illustrates how the work of the IBAHRI is contributing to strengthening Brazil’s capacity to uphold its national and international commitment
News release, Tuesday 12 November 2018. O Instituto de Direitos Humanos da International Bar Association (IBAHRI) divulgou um vídeo sobre prevenção à tortura no Brasil no qual atores interessados locais e especialistas internacionais opinam sobre o histórico da tortura no país e os desafios atuais para sua prevenção e persecução penal. O vídeo também ilustra como o trabalho do IBAHRI está contribuindo para fortalecer a capacidade de o Brasil defender seu compromisso tanto nacional como internacional com a
In the run up to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, the International Bar Association (IBA) has partnered with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to raise awareness about the absolute prohibition of torture, the damaging repercussions of its practice on the rule of law, and the active role that the legal profession can have in preventing its use and recurrence.