Every day across Africa, countless ordinary people, activists, journalist, teachers, trade unionists, LGBTI+ persons, politicians, and minority groups are tortured and ill-treated in contexts ranging from elections to protests, poverty to discrimination. Many of these victims end up languishing in prisons, with very little recourse to remedies. The Committee for Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) was established by the African Commission in 2009 to promote the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and set out in the Robben Island Guidelines, named after the island near Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27-year sentence.
Every year the CPTA receives hundreds of requests to intervene in cases, and therefore asked expert organisations to help it design a systematic approach it could take to receive and act on allegations of torture, or when there is an imminent risk of political oppression or torture. In 2021, the IRCT participated as an expert in the development by the CPTA of a new early warning system to be used by the Committee to react to emerging situations of torture and ill-treatment on the continent. Based on IRCT expertise and documentation tools, the warning system takes a strong victim-centred approach and includes cost effective processes for evidence collection and evaluation. The IRCT will continue its close collaboration with the CPTA and civil society organisations across Africa to make sure it provides effective protection against torture.