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CNDH calls for the establishment of an African NPMs network to strengthen cooperation in Africa in the context of the pandemic

The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) as the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (NPM) of Morocco and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) organized a regional webinar entitled “African NPMs, opportunities and challenges during and after the COVID-19 pandemic” on Friday 5 March 2021 on the occasion of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Mrs. Amina Bouayach, CNDH Chairperson called for the establishment of an African NPMs network to achieve zero torture and zero degrading treatment of prisoners in places of deprivation of liberty. She also underlined the need to strengthen cooperation in the African continent in this field, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the opening session of this regional webinar, Mrs. Bouayach stated that the CNDH, through its NPM, is convinced of the need to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of NPMs in the daily exercise of their functions, and to develop coordination level among them to overcome the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.

She also affirmed the conviction of the CNDH and the APT that the pandemic has evolved from a health crisis to a multi-dimensional one that does not cease testing all national and international protecting human rights systems.

For her part, Mrs. Suzanne Jabbour, Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), stressed the need to empower African NPMs to conduct their missions in these pandemic circumstances. She also called on these national mechanisms to consolidate their achievements, despite the circumstances of the pandemic and share their experiences to improve their performance in the future. In the same context, Mrs. Jabbour underlined the importance of the rights to vaccination of prisoners in places of deprivation of liberty.

For his part, Mr. Mohamed Benajiba, NPM- Morocco Coordinator, noted the circumstances of the NPM visits since the end of April 2020. 15 field visits were conducted to several places of depreciation of liberty in Morocco: prisons in Tetouan, Tangier, Dakhla, Bouizkarn and Laayoune, Child Protection Center in Casablanca, police stations In Rabat, Casablanca, Dakhla and Laayoune, Royal Gendarmerie Centers in Dakhla and Guelmim, and Elderly Center in Settat. Geographical distribution and type of groups were taken into account in choosing these places.

Mrs. Barbara Bernath, APT Secretary-General confirmed that the mechanisms have continued to monitor and visit places of deprivation of liberty, knowing that they have a huge responsibility to find out what is happening inside these places in these pandemic conditions. She also called for strengthening the prevention of torture in the African continent.

NPMs representatives from Rwanda, South Africa, Niger, Comoros, Mauritania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were agreed that the pandemic conditions did not prevent these mechanisms from carrying out their missions related to visiting places of deprivation of liberty, despite the lockdown and health emergencies imposed by authorities.

Participants were also unanimously agreed on the need to provide the necessary support and means to empower African NPMs to play their role related to preventing torture in places of deprivation of liberty, as well as sharing best practices among them to develop and improve their actions.

Facebook link to the webinar: https://fb.watch/44vBKwPeyn/

Download the CNDH Chairperson statement (Available in French)