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African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Robben Island Guidelines





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The Robben Island Guidelines (RIG) were developed and adopted (2002) by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights In order to draw up concrete measures for the implementation of the provisions of Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international instruments aimed at preventing torture. The Guidelines are recommendatory by nature and thus in principle non-binding on States. They consist comprise three sections on the prohibition of torture, the prevention of torture and the needs of the victims of torture, respectively.

Part I – Prohibition of torture

Of relevance to the right to a remedy under part I, is the section Complaints & Investigation procedures (articles 17-19 RIG) determining that States must put in place an independent and readily accessible complaint mechanism where alleged victims of torture and ill-treatment can bring their claims. Furthermore, in case of alleged torture of ill-treatment, States are ordered to immediately start impartial and effective investigations.

Part II – Prevention of torture

Section D of part II governs the States obligations with respect to Mechanisms of Oversight (articles 38-44 RIG). In the context of preventing torture, States must ensure that the judicial authorities can work independently and impartially. Moreover, States are called to establish effective and accessible complaint mechanisms, national institutions such as human rights commissions and ombuds(wo)men who are mandated to visit all places of detention and address the issue of the prevention of torture and ill-treatment. States are further urged to develop regional mechanisms for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

Part III: Responding to the needs of victims

Under Article 49 RIG, States are obliged to ensure that victims – who may include both families and communities that have been affected by the torture and ill-treatment suffered by one of their members – are protected from violence, and to offer them reparation irrespective of whether a successful criminal prosecution can be or has been brought. It is explicitly provided that victims and their dependents must receive medical care, have access to medical and social rehabilitation and be appropriately compensated.

For a later document advancing the implementation of the Robin Island Guidelines, see the 2008 Robben Island Guidelines – Practical Guide for Implementation including a summary, elsewhere in this section.

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