Further synergies within Ombuds institutions designated as NPMs essential to bring about long-lasting change
Representatives from nine Ibero-American Ombuds institutions designated to serve the torture prevention mandate of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) gathered for the first time in Panama between 19-21 September to identify common challenges and good practices relevant to their mandate. During the three-day workshop, it was agreed that synergies within these institutions were essential to guarantee the NPM’s capacity to bring about long-lasting changes in detention practices.
Implementing the mandate of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) within an existing Ombuds institution bears specific challenges, in particular in relation to human and financial resources, as well as operational autonomy. To overcome these challenges, the participating Ombuds institutions from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay identified and discussed minimum criteria to ensure the NPM’s operational autonomy.
Significantly, all participants agreed that synergies within an Ombuds institution and its NPM were essential to guarantee the NPM’s capacity to bring about long-lasting changes to detention practices.
The workshop was the culmination of an ambitious project, kicked-off in January 2017 and implemented in partnership with the Ibero-American Ombudsman Federation (FIO), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and PROFIO. Following the first research phase, which sought to understand all aspects of the functioning* of an NPM within an Ombuds institution through a mix of in-depth country visits and survey data, the APT put together a working paper which was then discussed during the September workshop in Panama.
The main outcomes of the workshop will soon be published.
* including its mandate and scope; information sharing; finances; visits, reports and recommendations; representation and interaction; communication and visibility; and accountability.
Roundtable on the role of Ombuds Institutions as National Preventive Mechanisms. Photo: Defensoría del Pueblo de Panama
José Alvaro Alfonso (Portugal) and Ruth Villanueva (México) sharing good practices of implementation of the NPM within their own institution. Photo: Defensoría del Pueblo de Panama
Mark Thomson, Secretary General of the APT, signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico (NHRC), represented by Consuelo de la Salud Olvera Treviño, Executive Secretary of the NHRC. Photo: Defensoría del Pueblo de Panama
Ombuds institutions from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay meet to discuss challenges and good practices relevant to their mandate as NPMs. Photo: Defensoría del Pueblo de Panama