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[Oral Statement] 52 Session of the ACHPR: The Prevention of Torture in Africa

October 2012

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Fifty-second ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Yamoussoukro - Côte d’Ivoire, 9 - 22 October 2012

Oral Statement by FIACAT
Item 9: Reports of the Members of the African Commission and Special Mechanisms on 25 years of the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa

Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa

Madam Chair,

The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) first of all wishes to thank you for your report, which presents a clear and accurate picture of the situation regarding torture in Africa.

Madam Chair,

FIACAT wishes to congratulate you on your action to promote the implementation in Africa of the Robben Island Guidelines, notably those urging States to criminalise torture. FIACAT believes that unless torture is treated as a crime in law, there is no dissuasive factor.

For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, contrary to the statement made by the Ministry for Human Rights and Public Freedoms during the analysis of this State, torture is not a crime in the country’s Criminal Code. There is no provision in the Criminal Code currently in force which explicitly defines torture or criminalises it. Nor does the Code of Criminal Procedure regard confessions obtained under torture as inadmissible. In obsolete articles of the Criminal Code concerning the death penalty, torture simply constitutes an aggravating circumstance.

And yet the National Committee of Enquiry set up on 20 July 2011 to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed after the elections noted 296 cases of torture leading to death, 1354 cases of torture and 1135 cases of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The committee recommends that those responsible for these acts be prosecuted but since torture is not a crime, the prosecution of torturers is currently impossible in Côte d’Ivoire.

Similarly, in Togo, despite announcements over several years concerning draft revisions of the Criminal Code, there is no legal definition of torture. In December 2011, following the examination of the periodic report on Togo by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the government instructed several experts to take up again the revision of the Criminal Code and of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They were given two months from January 2012 to consolidate the texts, which were to be validated at a technical workshop in March 2012. Such workshops were in fact held last May but the draft Codes have still not been submitted to Parliament.

Madam Chair,

FIACAT is very happy to have been able to accompany your activities since the creation of the Follow-up Committee on the implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines. Since the adoption of the Guidelines, in 2002, by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, FIACAT has been actively involved in ensuring their implementation in order, in particular, to prevent torture in places of detention. In this context, FIACAT has organised numerous training sessions designed to spread knowledge of the Guidelines and to encourage its members to promote their implementation.

To enable it to continue this work, FIACAT would like the Follow-up Committee to establish an action plan to be shared with its partners in civil society so as, in future, to cooperate more effectively in preventing torture in our continent.

I thank you Madam Chair.

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