CTI launches first UNCAT Implementation and Training Tools at Geneva public event

On Thursday 5 October, at the Red Cross Museum in Geneva, the CTI along with 14 co-sponsors held a public event – “Truth without torture: A role-play on investigative interviewing” – launching the first three in a line of UNCAT Implementation and Training Tools.

The role-play by Norwegian police Superintendents Asbjørn Rachlew and Sigurd Sundt.

The public event – which attracted around 100 participants from Geneva’s diplomatic community and the public – was convened by the CTI and 14 co-sponsors*. The main aim of the event was to launch the first three in a series of online UNCAT Implementation and Training Tools that have been prepared in close collaboration with partners, and also to showcase the approach of humane interviews in the investigation of crime, the focus of the training tool.

The tools will support CTI’s ongoing work to provide technical advice to governments and to share good practices between States. Together, the three tools document more than 30 different good practices on their individual themes from 34 different countries. Ambassador Carsten Staur of Denmark thanked CTI’s partners in developing these tools: Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Norwegian Police and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, as well as the University of Bristol.

An introduction to and elements of a role play animated the launch, sensitizing the participants- visually – on how police should carry out interviews ethically and efficiently. The method of investigative interviewing is based on building rapport between the police officer and suspect, victim or witness to get to the truth of the matter instead of using traditional interrogation methods which aim to extract a confession, and make dangerous assumptions about guilt. 

The role-play was carried out by Norwegian police Superintendents Asbjørn Rachlew and Sigurd Sundt who are both experienced in using investigative interviewing techniques in their own work and in training other States’ police forces to do the same. Rachlew explained that as a young police officer in Norway, he was taught that making the suspect confess was front and centre of his job. However, inspired by the British PEACE model** developed in Britain in the 1980s and ’90s, the Norwegian police advanced their own non-coercive interviewing model – KREATIV – where pursuing confessions has been replaced by pursuing information and truth and testing different hypotheses. Rachlew stressed that “moving from interrogations to interviews had required a complete change of mind-set”. 

Two discussants – Ms. Becky Milne, Professor of Forensic Psychology at Portsmouth University, and Mr. Edson Luis Baldan, Police Officer from Sao Paolo Police Academy in Brazil – provided their views on and experiences with investigative interviewing. For Milne, it was essential that a wish to change exists in the police, a legislative framework is in place, the police officer approaches the suspect with a cognitive and open mind, a proper training regime is in place, and that all interviews are recorded as transparency is key. For Baldan, he explained that to most effectively prevent torture from happening in Brazil’s places of detention, having an understanding and recognition of new forms of torture and ill-treatment was essential as well as limiting the involvement of military actors in all aspects of detention. Baldan furthermore stressed that reinforcing the role of private and public prosecutors as agents for preventing torture as well as securing audio and video recording of all interrogations were important.

Ambassador Hasan Kleib of Indonesia praised the model, explaining that Indonesia had recently begun to train police, with the support of the Norwegians, to use non-coercive investigative interviews rather than a traditional interrogation model which had prioritised a confession, while Ambassador Julian Braithwaite of the UK noted that “we have come a long way since Sherlock Holmes” in criminal investigation. He encouraged the use of the British PEACE model of investigative interviewing “because it reaches the truth without torture”. 

The event and open discussion was moderated by Barbara Bernath, Chief of Operations at the Association for the Prevention of Torture.

See the event flyer here.

* Permanent Missions of Argentina, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, the EU Delegation in Geneva, as well as the Anti-Torture Initiative, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.

** PEACE stands for: Planning and preparation; Engage and explain; Account; Closure; Evaluation.

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