MENA states discuss strategies to prevent torture at major CTI workshop

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Marrakech, Morocco, 13-15 December - The Kingdom of Morocco, Wilton Park and the CTI had invited MENA states and anti-torture experts to a regional workshop in Marrakech to discuss how to prevent torture and ill-treatment in police custody. The workshop was attended by more than 70 participants signaling strong commitment to eradicate the practice of torture in the region.

Representatives from MENA states, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Tunisia, and the UAE participated in the regional workshop on preventing torture in police custody where constructive discussions took place during the course of the two day meeting.

Local, regional as well as international anti-torture experts were also present, including Driss El Yazami, President of the National Human Rights Council of the Kingdom of Morocco (CNDH), Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, SPT Chair Malcolm Evans, SPT vice-Chair Suzanne Jabbour, acting CAT Chair Jens Modvig, CAT member Saâdia Belmir, former Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, APT Secretary General Mark Thomson and Abdel Salam Sidahmed, OHCHR Regional Representative in Beirut. 

The workshop was opened by high level representatives, including Mbarka Bouaida, Minister Delegate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Morocco, Charki Draiss, Minister Delegate from the Ministry of Interior of Morocco, Milouda Hazib, vice-President of the Marrakech/Safi region, Abderrazak Rouwane, Secretary General of the Interministerial Delegation for Human Rights of Morocco, and Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council (by video message).

The CTI core group was represented by Ambassador Mohamed Auajjar, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Carsten Staur, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Triyono Wibowo, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Sammie Eddico, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN in Geneva, and Jaime Moscoso, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN in Geneva .

Minister Delegate Mbarka Bouaida opened the workshop by reaffirming Morocco's commitment to fight torture and stressed that "nothing can justify torture".

Minister Delegate Charki Draiss ensured that Morocco is taking many measures to fight and prevent torture including by "enstoring confidence of the people in the justice system".

The establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism "would accelerate implementation of the commitment to prevent torture as well as build trust in the justice system", explained CNDH President, Driss El Yazami.

Through a video presentation, President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joachim Rüecker was pleased to note that almost all states in the MENA region had ratified the UN Convention against Torture and encouraged ratification of the Optional Protocol as a matter of priority.

On behalf of the CTI core group, Ambassador Carsten Staur cemented that "there is no excuse for torture under any circumstance. Torture is totally unacceptable and by resorting to torture, you simply lose the moral high ground".

The workshop would continue to discuss issues such as key provisions of the UNCAT and how they have been implemented in the MENA region, respecting human rights throughout criminal processes, police accountability, measures to take to create professional police forces, national reforms on policing practices in detention, and key steps that states can take to stop torture and mistreatment in places of detention.

See the full program here.

Links to workshop coverage in local media: