CTI joins ASEAN States in imagining torture-free societies


Jakarta, Indonesia and online




START: 03/12/20

END: 03/12/20

The Head of the CTI Secretariat, Dr. Alice Edwards, contributed to a consultation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) on the Implementation of Article 14 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

The consultation took place in Jakarta, Indonesia and virtually on 3-4 December 2020, at the initiative of the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, H.E. Yuyun Wahyuningrum. The meeting convened representatives of Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN bodies, international organisations, civil society, partnering governments and experts in the field of torture prevention. The consultation’s aim was to develop a common understanding of Article 14 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which guarantees the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to operationalise a “prevention culture” in ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society of November 2017, provides a roadmap for ASEAN Members towards a culture of prevention, requiring a “a mind-set change from a reactive to a preventive approach.”

Speaking during Session 2 on “Strategies to Deal with Contemporary Challenges in Preventing and Countering Torture,” Dr. Edwards underlined the importance of all ASEAN States ratifying UNCAT and  encouraged experience  sharing with CTI. Noting that Article 14 of the ASEAN Declaration reiterates the universally accepted prohibition against torture and ill-treatment, Dr. Edwards raised concern of misperception of asymmetry of obligations and understandings if  all ASEAN Member States are not  party to UNCAT.

Several ASEAN Member States already have anti torture laws and regulations in place. This positive trend shows a shift in policy from a reactive approach to incidents of torture and ill-treatment to a preventive approach, including criminalising and prosecuting these acts. In addition to legislation, Dr. Edwards referenced several practical measures that States can implement  to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment,  minimise risks of misconduct and de-incentivise undesirable behaviour. The following are key highlights:

  • Need for representative recruitment and promotions criteria, so that police services represent the communities they serve and safeguard credibility and trust within the community
  • Implement communication strategies that engage and seek the views of the community in policing strategies and priorities and inform the public about positive actions taken; especially in the era of social media where police actions are widely broadcast, and
  • Adopt low cost practices and techniques such as investigative interviewing, rather than heavy-handed and coercive interrogation methods

The AICHR consultation builds on previous CTI initiatives in the region. One example is  the CTI Regional Seminar “Sharing Experiences and Building State Capacity in South East Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific Region: Strengthening Institutional and Legislative Frameworks for Effective Law Enforcement,” hosted by CTI Core State Indonesia, in Bali,  in November 2019. In 2021, CTI will organise an event on police professionalism and investigative interviewing, as part of our regional capacity building engagement and follow-up to our Bali Regional Seminar.

During 2021, CTI will release portions of the new police resource kit for human rights-based and professional policing, which  reflects good practices adopted by ASEAN Member States.

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