Africa is poised to achieve regional universality of the UN Convention against Torture in the near future. 52 of the 54 African countries are already party to UNCAT, including an impressive 8 new ratifications in the past 5 years, the highest of any region.

A big push by CTI and its partners in Africa will help States prepare for ratification and take important steps towards full implementation of the Convention. There appear to be no political or legal obstacles to achieving regional universality of UNCAT in Africa. While there remain challenges to implementation, there are also many good State practices to be shared.

The two African States within the CTI core group – Ghana and Morocco – are leading CTI’s work across Africa. Read what they have had to say about the prospects for Africa-wide ratification here.

CTI is available to discuss available support – in a constructive and confidential format – with any interested African government. Contact us.

Regional ratification across Africa

African States parties
African States left to ratify

The vast majority of States have heeded the call to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture, and Africa is on the verge of regional universality, which is an exciting pan-African prospect.

According to Ramses Joseph Cleland, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations in Geneva and Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations in Geneva.

Regional ratification across Africa

CTI’s activities towards regional universality in Africa include bilateral engagement, carrying out diplomatic and technical visits to countries, inviting inter-ministerial delegations to Geneva to study the Convention and meet with relevant stakeholders, and designing tailored programmes of technical assistance upon request. CTI uses its network of Core State embassies in Africa as well as those of CTI’s Group of State Friends to promote ratification and implementation.

CTI country visits and seminars.

CTI study visits to Geneva.

Anti-torture legislative workshops and assistance

A thorough review and assessment of a domestic legal system’s compliance with treaty obligations is necessary to identify legal gaps and to pinpoint which laws may require revision. CTI’s conferences and workshops on this topic in Africa have taken stock of many good anti-torture laws, either in the form of amending existing laws (such as penal, evidence or procedural codes) or in adopting stand-alone anti-torture legislation. A number of challenges for African States remain in relation to legislative reform, such as a shortage of persons with the necessary drafting skills, gaps in knowledge and expertise in torture prevention and criminalisation, and experience in designing the consultative and adoption processes relevant to new anti-torture legislation or amending existing laws.

Capacity building and technical advice towards professional police

CTI’s work in Africa has focused on identifying and building regional and national opportunities for effective exchange of good practices, experiences  and challenges in policing and other forms of law enforcement. Research evidences that a combination of political, economic, legal, cultural and social processes and structures increase the risk for misconduct, corruption and abuse and as such all these aspects need to be engaged to prevent and respond to such situations. The police are fundamental state actors and key allies in the fight against torture and ill-treatment, and their engagement in building peaceful communities is pivotal. CTI is growing engagement across Africa and other regions in this area.

Be inspired. Read about what other Africa States have done to implement UNCAT :

The ratification of UNCAT by 52 out of 54 African States is the major achievement on the continent on the road to the prevention of torture. The CPTA continues to work for the adoption of national legislation prohibiting torture and establishing reparation for victims.

Commissioner Hatem Essaiem, Chairperson of the Committee on the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA)

CTI and the 40th anniversary of the African Charter in 2021

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the Committee on the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) are key partners of CTI, and have prioritised UNCAT ratification as the main instrument guiding States towards improved rule of law and governance. Complementing the global treaty, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights also contains the prohibition against torture, which is further developed and detailed in the Robben Island Guidelines for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture in Africa. CTI is working closely with the African institutional bodies to make Africa-wide ratification and implementation a reality.

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The CTI’s expert team provides one-on-one technical advice to governments and national institutions responding confidentially to technical queries on a wide range of issues.