Engaging the European Union on prevention of torture

To assist European Union institutions to take concrete steps to prevent torture, the APT provides inputs to human rights policies and practices. We also advocate for increased cooperation with between the EU and civil society. The APT is part of the Brussels-based Human Rights and Democracy Network of NGOs (HRDN).

The EU is the largest global provider of aid, and a major diplomatic and political actor on the international scene. Through the European External Action Service, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Special Representative on Human Rights, as well as its numerous delegations in third countries, the EU has the capacity to substantially contribute to enhancing the prevention of torture worldwide.

Fundamental rights in the EU’s external action

The APT cooperates with EU institutions to engage them further on this role, in Brussels and at EU delegation level, through a wide range of activities including contributions to bilateral EU Human Rights Dialogues.

The EU Guidelines on torture were first adopted by the EU in 2001 and are one of the primary advocacy tools for this purpose. The Guidelines outline a range of EU actions to combat torture, including support to independent monitoring bodies to places of detention, safeguards and adequate laws against torture. The APT has participated in the revision processes of the EU Guidelines in 2007 and in 2011. On both occasions, we recalled the need for the Guidelines to reflect the full potential provided by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture to move torture prevention forward. We work with fellow partners from the HRDN to make sure that implementation of the Guidelines on torture remains a priority for the EU, and particularly country delegations.

In July 2015, the EU adopted its new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2015-2019, which includes combatting torture as one of its priorities. The APT provided input during the drafting process, following its monitoring of the implementation of the previous Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan, which included references to combatting and preventing torture.

Fundamental rights within the EU

The EU must systematically give equal treatment to the problems of torture and other abuses outside its borders, as well as within the EU. The APT engages the EU on its role in promoting torture prevention internally, and holding member states accountable.