The Special Fund – A Focus on Torture Prevention
The 2021 Call for Applications is open from 1 January to 1 March 2021.
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The Special Fund of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture presents a unique opportunity to further
. It supports projects implementing recommendations of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) after a country visit.
The Fund was established in 2011 pursuant to article 26 of the Optional protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.
The Fund is managed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the advice of
The projects supported by the Fund have had a major impact in eleven countries in four regions, including:
Legislative and policy changes, such as adoption of the revised Code of Criminal Procedure in Benin, the Prison Act in Honduras and the law prohibiting abusive body search for persons deprived of their liberty in Brazil.
Institutional changes, such as the development of a registry of detainees in Paraguay and an improved form for medical and legal examination of torture and ill-treatment, in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, in hospitals in the Maldives.
Changes in peoples’ lives, such as the release of 49 remand detainees held without justification in Benin.
National Preventive Mechanisms
The Fund’s main focus is support to
national preventive mechanisms (NPMs). State parties of the Optional Protocol are obliged to designate NPM within one year of entry into force of the Protocol for them. They often need support in establishing independent and efficient NPM.
NPMs regularly visit places of deprivation of liberty, examine treatment of people held there, identify risks of torture and ill-treatment, and recommend to respective authorities how to address those risks. Properly functioning NPMs are vital for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.
Apply for a Grant
Calls for applications are open annually from beginning January to 1 March. Applications can be submitted by State parties, national preventive mechanisms, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions in accordance with the eligibility criteria set out in the Guidelines of the Fund. Eligibility to apply for grants is limited to projects in countries where SPT visit reports have been made public.
Support the Fund
The Special Fund relies entirely on voluntary contributions. Contributing to the Fund helps to prevent torture through tailored action on the ground. The Special Fund accepts donations from Governments, inter-governmental organizations and private entities, including business companies, foundations, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
Stories from the Fund
Better protection for juvenile detainees in Benin
In 2012 and 2013, two subsequent projects focused on implementation of SPT recommendations concerning children deprived of liberty in Benin. The 2012 project focused on revisions to the Code of Criminal Procedure, providing stronger guarantees for children deprived of their liberty, coupled with training of juvenile judges. The 2013 project addressed the promulgation of the Code of Criminal Procedure and provided for training of police officers and juvenile judges on torture and ill-treatment of children in conflict with law and tools to enforce prevention and accountability mechanisms. Follow-up monitoring visits have shown a positive outcome: a reported 17% decrease in violence against children deprived of their liberty.
“The Benin projects show the importance of coupling legislative measures with training of law enforcement officials. The positive trend of decreasing child related violence in detention is a very concrete outcome of these efforts.”
Enrique Andres Font, Vice-Chair, SPT