This submission from the APT builds on and complements the past and ongoing initiatives of the Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN), which gathers 40 plus civil society organisations (including APT), for a more effective EU policy on human rights. Therefore, this submission from the APT ought to be read in conjunction with the annexes mentioned below.
APT comments on the EU HR/VP joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2011) 886 final)
- The APT welcomes the submission of the EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy and the commitment to establish a position of EU Special Representative on human rights.
- The APT welcomes the references to the fight against torture, notably in the context of exchange of information between police forces of third countries.
- The APT is concerned that the consultation process related to the definition of a new EU human rights policy has thus far failed to make the most of civil society contributions.
- The APT believes that the joint communication should better highlight the actions that the EU will take to uphold the prohibition of torture and to prevent it.
APT comments on the draft EP report (2011/2185(INI))
- The APT commends the draft EP report for its clarity and robustness on the rejection of torture under all its forms and in all circumstances, and the references to suitable instruments for the prohibition and the prevention of torture, such as the OPCAT.
- The APT commends the call for coherence between internal and external policies with regards to the prevention of torture, as well as the absolute prohibition of torture while countering terrorism.
- The APT welcomes the references to National Preventive Mechanisms under the OPCAT, which are needed both within the EU as well as outside its borders
- The report should reaffirm that the EU be fully consistent with regards to internal and external policy related to torture and other ill-treatment. This means, for example, that all human rights dialogues held with third countries by the EU should address the issue of torture and other ill-treatment within the EU.
- The report should make a clear reference to the binding elements contained within the EU guidelines on torture with regards to EU external action on torture. The ongoing review process of these Guidelines ought to be closely followed and reference made to any future suitable conclusions related to the process
APT recommendations for a more effective EU policy on human rights which upholds the prohibition and prevention of torture
1. National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs)
These national bodies have demonstrated their potential to contribute in reducing the incidence of torture
- The central role of NPMs should be highlighted, and their functional independence, as well as other powers and guarantees foreseen by the OPCAT, should be suitably and systematically assured.
- EU support to NPMs should be framed within the requirements provided by the OPCAT for these national bodies.
- EU Heads of Mission in third countries should be sensitized to the OPCAT and NPMs, particularly in countries going through processes of ratifying and/or implementing the OPCAT.
- Exchanges and replication of good practices should be encouraged by the EU between NPMs from all regions.
2. Diplomatic assurances
These have failed to protect individuals expelled to a country where they are at risk of torture.
- The EU should openly reject diplomatic assurances and urge member states to uphold their legal duties with regards to non-refoulement.
- In particular, the EU should make it clear that no guarantees, including the presence of NPMs, shall justify expelling foreign nationals to a country where they face the risk of torture or other ill treatment.
3. EU support to UN torture prevention measures and mechanisms
- The EU should continue to play an active role and be ambitious on the content of antitorture resolutions within the UN General Assembly, and Human Rights Council.
- The EU should continue to support the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), the UPR process and the Special Rapporteur on Torture.
- The EU should provide financial support to the OPCAT Special Fund to support the implementation of SPT recommendations and NPM educational programmes.
- APT recommendations on the revision of the EU Guidelines on torture
- "EU human rights country strategies and EU Guidelines on torture" Joint letter from Amnesty International, APT, FIACAT, IRCT, and OMCT to the EU
- HRDN recommendations on the EU human rights strategy
- HRDN manifesto to the European Parliament