On 11 March 2020, the coronavirus epidemic (Covid-19) was declared a pandemic by the WHO. The massive and brutal shock produced by the disease, and the measures put in place to curb it, have upset all parts of society. Authoritarian regimes eroded the basic freedoms of citizens and put democracy on holiday for "health reasons". The severe recession in the global economy has led to social crises in fragile countries. Social distancing has reinforced isolation, as places of sociability are no longer frequented. Indeed, 2020 has been very difficult for the associative world. For FIACAT and its network, there has not been any physical contact, advocacy missions or programme monitoring. However, FIACAT has not stopped functioning, and the International Secretariat has shown creativity and innovation in order to move forward.

As such, FIACAT’s International Council was held electronically from 8 to 29 June 2020. A strategic plan for 2020-2024 was designed and adopted, incorporating three major axes: to fight torture and ill-treatment and to contribute to the abolition of the death penalty; to build capacity within and strengthen cooperation between ACATs, and to ensure the sustainability of FIACAT’s activities. The International Board, elected for four years, now comprises eight members. Two new members have joined, and one has left, Massimo Corti, the longest-serving member of the outgoing Board. I am grateful for his engagement and may he receive the solemn thanks of all the members of the network for his commitment and dedication.

Despite the health crisis, FIACAT continued to accompany ACATs before international and regional bodies. With regard to the death penalty, FIACAT was part of an important online event on 9 October 2020 ahead of the adoption of the resolution calling for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty by the United Nations General Assembly in 2020. It supported fifteen ACATs on the 18th World Day Against the Death Penalty. On 20 May 2020, Chad became the 22nd abolitionist country in Africa. FIACAT also continued to fight torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment through its programme on abusive pre-trial detention (APD). Thanks to the ACATs, through the programme 1,428 detainees obtained a court decision following the processing of their case. On the strength of their results, the APD programmes in the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Madagascar were renewed. To prevent the spread of the virus in prisons, FIACAT has been active in providing training, undertaking partnerships and in supporting the work of the ACATs. In 2020, FIACAT also followed the issue of torture-free trade and strengthened its advocacy for Germain Rukuki, who, it is hoped, will finally regain his FREEDOM.

The year 2020 was challenging, but FIACAT and its network remained committed to those forgotten by justice, particularly through the use of digital technology coordinated by the Secretariat, whose work should be commended. We must nevertheless remain vigilant about strengthening and reinforcing the place given to civil society and human rights in this digital world. Let’s get to work so that FIACAT can live on! 


President of the FIACAT