During the NGO Forum proceeding the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
The Working Group focused on two thematic areas namely:
The group assessed the situation relating to these issues and the status of compliance to human rights conditions in relation to these. The group further discussed on how to follow – up on previous resolution adopted by the commission to ensure their effective implementation and on strategies to enhance NGO engagement with the Commission and its relevant mechanisms. The group also noted best practices and obstacles faced in realisation of these rights as well as identified strategies to promote effective networking amongst the Working Group. Participants presented reports on the following African Countries: Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Togo, Nigeria and South Africa.
The group also noted that there are several cross-cutting issues in relation to torture and Prisons in Africa such as: Pre – Trial Justice, Mentally Challenged Persons in Prisons/Detention Facilities, Poor Legislative Framework, Lack of Adequate Health Facilities in Prisons and Detention Facilities, Refugees in Detention Centres; Solitary Confinement, etc.
Key recommendations were made by the Working Group to the Commission towards enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa with respect to prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, and promotion of Prison and Conditions of Detention in Africa.
1. Commends the Commission for its promotional visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and applauds the government of DRC for adoption of legislation criminalising torture in its jurisdiction, we are concerned that most African States are yet to criminalise torture in their respective domestic laws and urge all African States to urgently do so as well as establish the effective implementation of these.
2. Condemns the practice of extra-ordinary renditions where persons are transferred to another State where they are at a risk of being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment contrary to Article 20 of the Robben Island Guidelines.
3. Condemns the practice of expelling or extraditing individuals to other States where they are at a risk of being tortured contrary to article 15 of the Robben Island Guidelines, Article 3(1) of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
4. Urges the Commission to strengthen its focus on the rights of victims of torture to holistic rehabilitation including health, social, legal and other services and to justice and reparation. Furthermore, to engage with Member State to ensure that thesevictims’rights are fully respected, protected and promoted and mechanisms /structures are put in place to implement these accordingly; including activities aimed at documentation and redressing of torture and to support rehabilitation services/centres in the African region.
5. Urges the Member States to put in place measures to end impunity and to allow independent investigation to prosecute public officials responsible for acts of torture and request the Commission to take concrete steps to monitor the implementation of this.
6. Urges that Member States to make public ALL places of detention and avail the Commission and the National Human Rights Institutions as well as relevant NGOs with this information and allow access to these places of detention by national, regional and international oversight/monitoring mechanisms.
7. Urges Member States to cooperate effectively with the CPTA in order to fully implement its mandate.
1. Urges the Commission to effectively engage with the African Correctional Services Association (ACSA), relevant African and international NGOs and other agencies working in the field of prisons and develop standard norms to enhance prison reform in Africa as well as implement relevant resolutions of the Commission on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa.
2. Commends the Commission on its support for the Prisons Reform Intervention in Africa and urges the Commission to further support the Prison Reform Intervention in Africa Project as well as ensure practical implementation of programmes to promote prison reform in Africa as well as work with member states and NGOs to ensure the full actualization of concrete initiatives in this regards.
3. Urges member states to effectively fund prisons in their respective countries and put in place mechanisms to bring them in accordance with international standards.
4. Requests member states to guarantee access to the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Condition of Detention in Africa, National Human Rights Commission and to CSOs/ NGOs to Prisons and ALL places of Detention within their jurisdiction, to ensure effective monitoring, oversight of conditions and provision of support services to detainees and prisoners.
5. Urges Member States to take urgent measures to address the problems of high prison population, high number of awaiting trial prisoners and other issues relating to pre-trial justice in their respective jurisdictions and call on the Commission to monitor compliance of member states to this.
Done at Banjul, April 28th, 2011