Preventing torture through prison visits


Visits to places of detention play a critical role in helping states comply with their international human rights obligations. Rapporteurships, treaty organs, and other bodies working nationally and internationally are entrusted with carrying out this key function and have developed a rich body of principles and practices. Yet there have been few formal opportunities to share experiences and learn from each other in order to enhance efficiency and avoid duplication.

It was in this wise that on Friday, March 18 2011, the American University Washington College of Law and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) organised a day-long conference in Washington DC to address the crucial role of visits to detention facilities around the world in ensuring that safeguards for detainees are enforced. The conference convened top experts including mandate holders, policymakers, lawyers, NGOs, scholars, and practitioners from around the world to analyze key challenges confronting detention visits today and establish channels for enhancing collaboration.

Commissioner Dupe Atoki was invited in her dual capacity as the Chairperson of the CPTA and the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Places of Detention in Africa to present the African perspective on detention visits and vulnerable groups.

She highlighted the dire situations of prisons in Africa and the potential of preventing torture and ill-treatment through prison visits and concluded that prison visits are not only desirable but essential if prisons are to be made correctional and rehabilitative institutions rather places of mere incarceration. Full presentation attached.