The importance of prison monitoring by organisations from civil society as a lever in the prevention of torture at the 64th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights


Sharm El Sheikh, 26 April 2019 – the special Rapporteur on prisons, conditions of detention and the police in Africa at the African  Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) set up, together with the International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT), a panel to look at prison monitoring by organisations from civil society as a lever in the prevention of torture.

Individuals who are denied their liberty face a higher risk of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  The actual conditions in places of detention are regularly found to amount to ill treatment.  International and regional standards on promoting and protecting human rights recognise that prison monitoring plays a key role in the prevention of torture.

In that context, FIACAT - together with its members - organised a programme to fight against arbitrary preventive detention (APD).  This project resulted in an improvement in prison conditions and in reducing prison overcrowding as well as reinforcing joint action with state authorities to ensure the legal rights of detainees are respected.

During the panel meetings organised by the special rapporteur on prisons for the ACHPR, participants were told about the changes underway regarding preventive detention in Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Congo and Côte d'Ivoire.  The presentation showcased the added value of NGOs that defend human rights in their monitoring of places of detention.

Participants were able to share experiences while highlighting the importance of creating joint projects with the different individuals involved in the criminal systems in the various countries.  These discussions also made it possible to identify the difficulties encountered and to share good practise so that it can be replicated.

FIACAT encourages :

  • the ACHPR to ask States to provide information on a regular basis on the monitoring of places of detention by NGOs;
  • all the relevant authorities to act to reduce problems in terms of access to places of detention;
  • States to encourage and facilitate visits to places of detention by NGOs that play an essential role in monitoring prison conditions thanks to the regular and independent nature of their visits, their skill in assisting detainees and their ability to bring awareness of the issues to the outside world.


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