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[Oral Satement] 56th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR: FIACAT’s Oral Statement on Torture in Africa

May 2015

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56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Banjul, Gambia, 21 April – 7 May 2015
Item 7 of the agenda:
Committee for the prevention of torture in Africa

Madam Chair,

The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, FIACAT, would like to congratulate you on the actions taken by the Committee for the prevention of torture in Africa since the 55th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR. Nevertheless, FIACAT remains greatly concerned by the number of cases of torture documented by its members (ACATs) and the impunity which torturers enjoy.

Madam Chair,

In Niger, torture is prohibited under Article 14 of the Constitution but the Criminal Code does not define torture and does not include an autonomous offence of torture. In fact, under Articles 208.2 to 208.4, acts of torture are a crime only when they amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. Some articles of the Criminal Code take account of torture, but only as aggravating circumstances in crimes such as murder, arbitrary arrest or imprisonment and hostage-taking. In other cases, acts of torture are only covered by the crime of assault and battery.

Similarly, in Côte d’Ivoire, torture is prohibited under Article 3 of the Constitution but it is not defined, or included as a crime in the Criminal Code. In the rare cases where acts of torture are investigated and prosecuted, they are only prosecuted as assault and battery and the sentences handed down are not proportional to the seriousness of the act. An interministerial committee responsible for reviewing the codes was set up on 4 June 2013 with a view to incorporating Côte d’Ivoire’s international commitments in the Criminal Code, but no information on the progress of its work has yet become available.

In Senegal, torture is a crime under article 295-1 of the Senegalese Criminal Code but its definition does not comply with the State’s international commitments. In fact, it does not define as torture acts carried out in order to obtain information, or to punish, intimidate or put pressure on a third party.

Madam Chair,

Because of these failures to define torture in line with the States’ commitments, particularly the United Nations Convention against Torture and the Robben Island Guidelines, it is not possible to punish the particularly serious nature of this crime or to prevent its occurrence.

For these reasons, FIACAT invites the Committee for the prevention of torture in Africa to encourage member States of the African Union to make torture a crime under their national law.

I thank you Madam Chair.

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