Paris – Bujumbura, 23 October 2013. On 18 October 2013 Burundi joined the Optimal Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). This is a very important step towards the prevention of torture in detention centres in the country.
The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and ACAT Burundi congratulate the Burundian government on becoming a member of the Optimal Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture on 18 October 2013.
OPCAT’s objective is to prevent acts of torture from taking place in detention centres by establishing a system of regular visits to such centres by independent international and national bodies. FIACAT and ACAT Burundi, who conducted an advocacy mission in February 2013 to persuade the Burundian authorities to ratify the Protocol, are pleased to hear the news of this progress.
The Protocol will come into force in Burundi on 17 November 2013 in compliance with article 28 §2 which states that the Protocol will come into force thirty days after the date that the instrument of accession has been lodged by Burundi.
Under the Protocol, Burundi will have a period of one year to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in compliance with OPCAT requirements. Article 18 of OPCAT states that the National Preventive Mechanism is to perform its duties completely independently and must have the necessary resources to carry out its duties properly. It must be able to undertake regular examinations of the situation of detainees in order to prevent acts of torture in detention centres. To this end, the NPM must have access to all information regarding the number of detainees, the number of detention centres and their locations. It must have access to all detention centres and must be able to meet with detainees in private, without the presence of witnesses. It must have the power to choose the centres that it visits and the people with whom it meets.
FIACAT and ACAT Burundi will ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Protocol. They are prepared to work with the Burundian government to establish an effective National Preventive Mechanism.