The "Gautier proposal"

In October 1976 the weekly journal La Vie Protestante in Geneva published an article by Jean-Jacques Gautier called “A new weapon against torture”. 

The article outlined in detail a proposal of an international convention to establish a system of un-announced visits to places of detention. Gautier’s idea was to prevent, rather than react to, violations on the premise of dialogue, rather than confrontation, with States.

The journal also published responses on the “Gautier proposal“ by 18 prominent political and academic personalities. Many fully supported such a convention, encouraging Gautier and Switzerland to move forward with the idea. Others considered the idea “unrealistic”, “utopian” and “too optimistic”. In the following months, the ICRC sent a letter of support and Gautier continued to publish articles and organize conferences to raise awareness of his initiative. In St-Gallen, Switzerland, an informal group was formed on the initiative of Ms. Martita Jöhr-Rohr to advance the “Gautier proposal”. Other individuals and organisations encouraged and supported the idea, including the ICRC, International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International and the ACAT.

In 1977 Jean-Jacques Gautier founded the Swiss Committee against Torture (Comité Suisse contre la torture), which would later become the APT, as a platform to promote the prevention of torture.