VIth biennial cycle of the Norbert Kenne training programme for African human rights trainers: “Reinforcement of the capacities of the actors in civil society effectively to put in place the mechanisms for the prevention and punishment of torture in Africa”
The operational aim of this VIth cycle enabled the teaching and the workshop sessions to take on a double dimension: allowing African activists to acquire a good knowledge of the legal tools (national, African regional and international) relating to the prohibition of torture while at the same time familiarising themselves with concrete ways of using those tools. This operational approach was reinforced by periods of analysis and reflection on the universal foundations of human rights and the absolute nature of the ban on torture.
One of the characteristics of this VIth cycle will have been to allow participants to identify and better understand the recurrent difficulties in putting into practice the principle of the prohibition of torture. The initial assessment is verified through the study of the mechanisms for control and sanction during the two phases of the training, but also through carrying out projects during the intermediate phase. Analysis of the contents of the 24 reports presented during the follow-up session highlights the parameters and the problems.
actors in society in the knowledge of and putting into effect of the legal, national and international instruments relating to the struggle against torture, on the other hand. These parameters and problems are basically of two kinds and form part of the continuity of the assessments carried out during the preceding sessions. It is principally, then, a question of weakness, or even, in some cases of failure – of the State, coupled with a sociocultural context which is favourable to certain acts of torture even if it does not legitimise them.
Certainly, the global battle against terrorism is today a supplementary factor in the weakening of the legal authority of the instruments of struggle against torture in the world, but – compared with the two other aforementioned arguments – this argument remains clearly marginal in sub-Saharan Africa. Likewise, apart from the uniqueness of the principal motives for torture on the African continent, the study of the 24 reports presented during the follow-up session to this VIth cycle makes clear the uniqueness of the difficulties encountered by activists in their efforts to curb the practice of torture, in particular the problem of the effective availability and the accessibility of legal recourses.
Of the 26 participants present at the main session, 24 took part in the follow-up session. As in the preceding editions of the cycle, the participants showed great interest in remaining within the network of other African defenders of human rights, especially with the participants in previous editions of the Norbert Kenner cycle. The idea of organising an assessment session with all the participants in all the editions of the Cycle – an idea already brought up during the preceding session – was revived.
The pedagogical team is reflecting on the relevance and feasibility of such a project.