The CTI appoints new full time Head of Secretariat

Geneva, 6 January 2016 – The Convention against Torture Initiative is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Alice Edwards, an experienced international human rights lawyer, as the new Head of Secretariat.

Dr. Alice Edwards, Head of the CTI Secretariat.

Alice has a proven track record of facilitating inter-State consultations and dialogue, in advising national constitutional and legislative processes, as well as strategy and policy development, most recently as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Chief of Protection Policy and Legal Advice, based in Geneva. In that position, she inter alia spearheaded UNHCR’s Global Strategy – Beyond Detention, a blueprint for action to support governments – through constructive dialogue, technical advice and capacity-building – to end the routine detention of asylum-seekers and to ensure that, where detention is unavoidable, conditions meet international standards.

Alice has held academic appointments in law at the universities of Oxford and Nottingham, is widely published, and has worked in diverse countries as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (the latter with Amnesty International).

Responding to her appointment, Alice said:

“I hope to build on the solid work that has already been undertaken by the CTI and other stakeholders to support the ambitious yet achievable goals of universal ratification and improved implementation of the Convention against Torture by 2024.” Alongside this, efforts to encourage States parties to remove any reservations to the treaty and to commit to the Optional Protocol are being pursued.

Only 37 States have not yet ratified the UNCAT. A number of these States have already shown their commitment through signature but further engagement with them is needed to take the next step. Sharing how other States, often with similar concerns, have been able to achieve ratification and respect for the UNCAT is a core plank of the work of the CTI.

Alice noted that, “In my experience, the constructive dialogue approach embraced by the CTI, in which States are given space to share their challenges regarding ratification and implementation, supported by independent experts and civil society, is one of the most effective ways to bring about long-term and sustainable change.” The CTI’s event on strategies and practices to prevent torture and ill-treatment in police custody in Marrakech in December 2015, which Alice attended, was an inspiring example of such collaboration and dialogue.

Alice’s immediate priority as Head of Secretariat is to consolidate CTI’s ratification and implementation strategy and to prepare for a meeting of African States on the obligation to criminalise torture, to be held in Accra, Ghana, in April. A number of important bilateral consultations and visits will also be undertaken in the first half of 2016 to support ratification and more effective implementation processes, at both national and regional levels.

Alice will also be reaching out to the CTI Group of Friends, a platform for knowledge and information-sharing, to garner the capacity of members to further support the work of the CTI. She would be very happy to discuss with other State representatives about joining the Group of Friends, irrespective of whether their State has ratified the Convention and/or its Optional Protocol, as well as with NGOs who may wish to lend their support to the CTI.

Lastly, the CTI is sincerely thankful to Lee Hegarty for his very substantial contribution to the work of the CTI during 2015 and wishes him all the very best on his return to the United Kingdom.

Alice Edwards can be contacted on +41 (0)22 7308648 or by email.

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