What is torture prevention?

Risks of torture and ill-treatment exist everywhere, in any country at any time. Torture prevention is a global strategy that intends to reduce these risks and create an environment where torture and ill-treatment are less likely to occur.

Torture prevention requires a three-stages approach that is best summarised in a “House of prevention”:

The foundation

First, an effective legal framework must be in place that both prohibits and prevents torture and ill-treatment, as well as legal safeguards.

The walls

Secondly, these laws and regulations need to be applied in practice. Implementation is achieved through training (of the police and other actors), development of procedural safeguards (video-recording of interrogations; registers in prisons) as well as through sanctions in case of non-respect of the law. All these interventions would form the “walls of the house”.

The protective roof

Finally, control mechanisms should be in place in order to check both whether the legal framework exists and whether it is implemented. Regular visits to places of detention by independent bodies, in particular National Preventive Mechanisms, constitute one of these control mechanisms. In addition, the media as well as recommendations by international human rights bodies would also serve as control mechanisms. These would form a “protective roof”.