On the urgency of establishing a panel on experts on torture prevention within the ODIHR

In December 2020, the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Tirana adopted Decision No. 7/20 "Prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (hereinafter, Decision No. 7/20). This decision marks a historic and pivotal moment for the OSCE's efforts to enforce the prohibition of torture over the past decade. It took six years to achieve an agreement on the wording of this decision, enabling its adoption by consensus. This document reaffirmed all the commitments previously made within the OSCE regarding the prohibition of torture and introduced several new ones. Specifically, these extended commitments include preventing enforced disappearances and prolonged incommunicado detention. Furthermore, Decision No. 7/20 stresses the importance of adopting “an integrated and victim-centred approach encompassing prevention, access to justice, accountability, redress and the enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.”

Unfortunately, over the past three years, the situation with commitments under Decision No. 7/20 has further deteriorated and is critical. The standard, business-as-usual measures of monitoring, reviews, and calling for steps to be taken are clearly insufficient.

The CSP Working Group on the Fight Against Torture has emphasized at various OSCE venues that "an obligation can only be effective if it is implemented in concrete practical steps" and has called upon the OSCE and participating States to develop actions plans or roadmaps aimed at ensuring the implementation of commitments under Decision No. 7/20.

It is important to note that despite the fact that many of the obligations of Decision No. 7/20 are contained in other international human rights instruments, for many countries, the OSCE's actions in the framework of the human dimension acquire key importance, since it is one of the few international intergovernmental institutions with human rights monitoring mechanisms in place.

This is precisely why the CSP Working group on Fight Against Torture deems it highly important at this moment to reinstate the ODIHR Advisory Panel on the Prevention of Torture, which functioned from 1998 to 2003, and to infuse its work with new substance. The panel would have a vital mandate of monitoring the implementation of the new expanded commitments on torture prevention by OSCE participating States and provide guidance and support to OSCE and participating States in their essential reform efforts.

More details are in the document prepared by the CSP Working group on Fight Against Torture.