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21.11.16

OMCT convenes meeting with NGOs from around the world how to fight torture amid greater threats to human rights

OMCT convenesmeeting with NGOs from around the world how to fight torture amid greaterthreats to human rights

21 November 2016 (Geneva) – The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and itsglobal network of anti-torture activists and human rights defenders will meetin Geneva this week to discuss how best to fight torture amid heightened terroristthreats, intensifying migration fluxes and rising populist leaders who condonethe use of this inhumane practice.

The two-dayforum will take place at Geneva’s CICG on 24-25 November. High-ranking officials such as the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Human Rights, the Director of the EuropeanUnion’s Fundamental Rights Agency, and the Head of Switzerland’s Human SecurityDivision, as well as some 100human rights experts, advocacy specialists, and members of OMCT’s SOS-Torturenetwork of NGOs from all over the world will exchange viewson issues ranging from the refugeecrisis to innovative methods of reporting torture.

Tortureis not a remote, specialists’ issue; nor is it bound to times of war or civilconflict or to the prisons of dictatorships. On the contrary, what OMCT, thecatalyst of a network of more than 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spanning90 countries, has been able to observe on a daily basis in its 30 years ofexistence to date is that torture is pervasive and even becoming sociallyacceptable as more States accept compromises with human rights in the name of‘national security’.

“Therecourse to torture serves as the litmus test; it’s symptomatic of a weakeningof the values that are the foundations of democracy. It is urgent we bring themto the forefront of the global agenda,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT SecretaryGeneral. “We can only manage that together, in a single voice pressuring Statesto stick to these principles uncompromisingly and at all times.”

OMCThas invited its members and supporters to celebrate its 30thanniversary during an invitation-only cocktail party on 24 November from 6 to9 p.m. hosted by the City of Geneva at the Palais Eynard. The ceremony willinclude live performances by French singer Louisy Joseph and actresses Anne Richard and Noémie Kocher, who is also OMCT’sgoodwill ambassador.

Forthe full programme of the Forum,please visit here. Forum list of speakers List of Forum participants

The event offers participants and the media theopportunity to hear from leading expertson torture and human rights:

· Mr.Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissionerfor Human Rights;

· Mr.Dick Marty, OMCT Vice-President and Former President of theHuman Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,Switzerland;

· Mr.Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Fundamental RightsAgency of the European Union;

· AmbassadorHeidi Grau, Head of Human Security Division, Federal Departmentof Foreign Affairs, Switzerland

· Mr.Francois Longchamp, President of the Conseil d’Etat,Canton and Republic of Geneva;

· Mr.Nils Melzer, newly appointed United Nations SpecialRapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ofpunishment (Swiss national);

· Mr.Jens Modvig, Chairperson, United Nations Committee AgainstTorture.

Meet OMCTleadership:

· Mr.Yves Berthelot, OMCT’s President since 2008, former Director ofthe UN Economic Commission of Europe;

· Mr.Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General;

· Ms.Hina Jilani, Founder of the Human Rights Commission ofPakistan and incoming President of OMCT

At the event, humanrights defenders from across the world will share stories that illustrate thenature of torture and its consequences. Representatives from the followingcountries will appear:

· Azerbaijan:Ms. Leyla Yunus, Institute of Peace and Democracy,Azerbaijan, recently released

· Bangladesh: Mr.Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar Bangladesh;

· Burundi:Mr. Armel Niyongere, representative of SOS-Torture Burundi;

· Belgium: Mr.Peter Zangl, OMCT Representative at the European Union;

· China: a human rights defenders from a Chinese NGO;

· Colombia:Ms. Jahel Quiroga Carrillo, Director of the human rightsorganization REINICIAR and Mr. Gustavo Gallón, Director of the ComisiónColombian de Juristas;

· Guatemala:Ms. Anabella Sibrian, Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad, Guatemala;

· Greece:Mr. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor;

· India:Mr. Henri Tiphagne, Representative of People’s Watch India;

· Macedonia:Mr Gordan Kalajdziev, Director of the Helsinki Committee of the Republic ofMacedonia;

· Mexico:Ms. Stephanie Brewer,Director ofInternational Affairs at Centro Prodh;

· Russia:Ms. Olga Sadovskaya, Interregional Public Organisation“Committee Against Torture” (CAT);

· Togo:Mr. André Kangni Afanou, Director of the Collectif des Associations Contre l’Impunitéau Togo;

· Tunisia:Mr. Mokthar Trifi, Former president of the Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l’Hommeand Ms Gabriele Reiter, Director of OMCT Tunisia;

· Turkey: Mr.Yavuz Bimbay, Sohram Casra founder and torture victim himself;

· Tadjikistan:Ms. Favziya Nazarocka, Director of the Public Foundation “Nota Bene” and theTadjikistan Coalition Against Torture;

· Philippines:Ms. Rosemarie Trajano, Director of the Philippine Alliance of Human RightsAdvocates;

· Uruguay: Mr.LuisPedernera, recently elected member of the UN Committeeof the Rights of the Child and representative of Instituto de Estudios Legalesy Sociales del Uruguay;

· Senegal:Ms. Aminata Dieye, National Coordinator of AmnestyInternational’s Human Rights Education Programme in Senegal.

Specialistson communicating on torture:

· How global digital campaigns can helpcombat torture: Mr. Matthias Lüfkens,social media architect at Burson-Marsteller;

· How video can helpreport cases of torture: Ms. KellyMatheson, WITNESS Senior Attorney and Program Manager.

About OMCT

Created at the end of 1985, the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT) is the catalyst of the SOS-Torture network, a coalitionof more than 200 international and national non-governmental organizationsfighting torture, summary execution, enforced disappearances and all othercruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

With offices in Geneva, Brussels and Tunis, OMCT runs programmesto favour State compliance with anti-torture legislation, support victims oftorture, with particular attention to children in detention and women, andprotect human rights defenders worldwide.

For moreinformation, please visit: www.omct.org

For ourlatest #HumanAgainstTorture campaign: www.joinhat.org

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Forall media inquiries : Lori Brumat, OMCT Head of Communications +41 78 823 0669 or lb@omct.org.

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