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Human Dignity and Public Security

Providing research-based support in order to fight torture and ill-treatment globally

Freedom from torture is universally recognised as an absolute and non-derogable right and international human rights treaties and standards contain numerous preventive obligations. Nevertheless, torture remains a problem in the majority of States worldwide, often even on a widespread or systematic scale. States fail to implement their obligations due to a lack of political will or adequate capacities, or to a lack of efficient preventive measures. International and national oversight mechanisms do not achieve to effectively follow up their recommendations to provide the necessary support to or exert pressure on the responsible authorities.

The Human Dignity and Public Security team at the BIM is specialised in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. The team was established in 2004 to support Manfred Nowak’s mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), investigating the situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Observing the lack of follow-up and implementation of recommendations for the prevention of torture, the team has since then carried out extensive research on the effectiveness of torture prevention measures, focusing particularly on the following questions:

  • What measures and mechanisms are effective in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of detainees’ rights?
  • How can existing legal and institutional frameworks be strengthened to more effectively prevent torture and protect human rights, especially the rights of detainees?
  • How can monitoring and oversight mechanisms ensure the implementation of national and international human rights obligations?

The Institute is guided by the idea of ‘translational research’, committed to transform its research results into direct impact on the ground, meaning contributing to a concrete improvement of human rights in societies. In this spirit, the team aims at using its expertise and the experience in investigating, monitoring and reporting human rights violations to provide evidence-based and targeted advice as well as support to torture prevention actors. In the past, the team has supported State actors, notably National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), as well as civil society actors in inter alia Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, FYROM, Moldova, Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Togo, Turkey, Uruguay and is currently engaged in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and across Europe. Thereby, the team has not only gathered broad substantive but also methodological experiences on organisational development and how to conduct effective consulting and training.

Important milestone in EU-funded Rule of Law Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic

Awarded BIM experts Dmitry Nurumov and Saule Aripova

Within the Rule of Law Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic (ROLPRO 2) project, BIM experts Dmitry Nurumov and Saule Aripova, together with the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) and a large number of IT experts, have effectively contributed to improving the efficiency of law enforcement in accordance with human rights standards.

Conference: Strategies and Programmes for De-radicalization and Risk Assessment in Prisons

On 9 April 2019 the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights and the Federal Ministry for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice hosted a conference for the EU research project ‘Strategies and Programmes for De-radicalization and Risk Assessment’.

Bundesministerium für Verfassung, Reformen, Deregulierung und Justiz, Wien, Österreich

Working towards harmonised detention standards in the EU – the role of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs)

Judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU is based on the principle of mutual recognition and the approximation of laws, i.e. the establishment of common minimum standards. Mutual recognition is based on mutual trust which – as emphasised by the CJEU - does not mean "blind trust" and must not lead to a violation of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

Atlas of Torture: An Information and Cooperation Platform to Fight Torture and Ill-Treatment World-wide

Despite their universal and absolute prohibition, torture and other forms of ill-treatment remain a “global crisis” affecting the majority of States worldwide. At the same time, there is a lack of awareness about the problem. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture stated that we live in a time of “collective amnesia” where official narratives and public beliefs trivialise and even endorse torture in the name of security and the fight against terrorism, forgetting the suffering and damages it causes.

Numerous international and domestic actors are engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment through monitoring, research, advocacy, technical assistance, etc. However, there is insufficient access to information on the problem. Good practices and guidelines on prevention are not only inadequately documented, but also receive limited exposure. What is more, information about prevention work remain dispersed across several different sources and inadequately documented.

Moreover, the lack of coordination among the different actors lead to frequent duplications and missing synergies. The potential of internet-based technologies to strengthen the exchange and cooperation as well as providing effective support and learning opportunities needs to be explored further.

For these reasons, the Atlas of Torture website aims to empower organisations and individuals and strengthening the global fight against torture and ill-treatment. It will do so by:

  • Raising awareness on the problem by highlighting how torture and ill-treatment can be prevented through documentation, learning and exchange
  • Ensuring easy access to information
  • Making the work of actors engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment more visible
  • Strengthening exchange and cooperation

Ultimately, the website will thus provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for researchers and practitioners to easily and freely access up-to-date information and strategies for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.