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Conclave of North African NPMs on the prevention of torture in Rabat, Morocco

The proceedings of the regional meeting of National Mechanisms for the Prevention of Torture (NPMs) in North Africa were launched on 26 September 2017 in Rabat, Morocco. Driss El Yazami, President of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), jointly with Mustapha Ramid, Minister of state for Human Rights and Barbara Bernath, Head of Operations of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) in Geneva participated in this event.

Organized by the CNDH and the APT, this two-days meeting was an opportunity to better understand the status, mandate, organization and functioning of the NPM, and exchange on compared experiences of NPMs in North Africa.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Driss El Yazami welcomed the progress of Morocco’s treaty practice, particularly following the ratification of the main international human rights conventions, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) ratified in 2014. Following this ratification, Morocco is committed to respect one of the most important obligations of this international instrument: the creation of an NPM.

In this context, the President of the CNDH reminded that the Council has called for the implementation of a global approach for fighting and criminalizing torture. He pointed out that, similarly to the experiences of the majority of countries which entrusted the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) to adopt the NPM, the CNDH bill currently under discussion in Parliament gives the CNDH the mandate of this mechanism, alongside with the children redress mechanism and the disability rights mechanism.

The Minister of State for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, called for speeding up the process of adopting the draft law of the CNDH in order to register Morocco, as soon as possible, among the countries with a mechanism for the prevention of torture.

Referring to the issue of torture, Mustapha Ramid did not deny the existence of non-systematic torture in Morocco. He called stakeholders to intensify efforts to put an end to this bad practice of the department.

Martine Brunchwig Graf, President of the APT, indicated that the implementation of the OPCAT is a long and sometimes difficult process. She added that once the OPCAT is implemented, mechanisms must start their preventive work and prove themselves as points of reference on the issue of the prevention of torture in the institutional context.

This meeting brought together the representatives of the Tunisian and Mauritanian NPMs, and those of the CNDH, which is the Moroccan institution entrusted to house the NPM according to the upcoming CNDH law currently under discussion in parliament. This event also intended to discuss the main opportunities and challenges faced at the beginning of the existence of these emerging mechanisms and to better understand the preventive mandate.

The proceedings of this meeting combined plenary sessions and practical exercises using an interactive approach. In this context, members of the French and Italian NPMs shared their practical experiences in implementing the mandate.