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Human Dignity and Public Security

Human Dignity and Public Security

Providing research-based support in order to fight torture and ill-treatment globally

Freedom from torture is universally recognised as an absolute and non-derogable right and international human rights treaties and standards contain numerous preventive obligations. Nevertheless, torture remains a problem in the majority of States worldwide, often even on a widespread or systematic scale. States fail to implement their obligations due to a lack of political will or adequate capacities, or to a lack of efficient preventive measures. International and national oversight mechanisms do not achieve to effectively follow up their recommendations to provide the necessary support to or exert pressure on the responsible authorities.

The Human Dignity and Public Security team at the LBI of Fundamental and Human Rights is specialised in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. The team was established in 2004 to support Manfred Nowak’s mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004–2010), investigating the situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Observing the lack of follow-up and implementation of recommendations for the prevention of torture, the team has since then carried out extensive research on the effectiveness of torture prevention measures, focusing particularly on the following questions:

  • What measures and mechanisms are effective in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of detainees’ rights?
  • How can existing legal and institutional frameworks be strengthened to more effectively prevent torture and protect human rights, especially the rights of detainees?
  • How can monitoring and oversight mechanisms ensure the implementation of national and international human rights obligations?

The Institute is guided by the idea of ‘translational research’, committed to transform its research results into direct impact on the ground, meaning contributing to a concrete improvement of human rights in societies. In this spirit, the team aims at using its expertise and the experience in investigating, monitoring and reporting human rights violations to provide evidence-based and targeted advice as well as support to torture prevention actors. In the past, the team has supported State actors, notably National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), as well as civil society actors in inter alia Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, FYROM, Moldova, Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Togo, Turkey, Uruguay and is currently engaged in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and across Europe. Thereby, the team has not only gathered broad substantive but also methodological experiences on organisational development and how to conduct effective consulting and training.

Expert online exchange on the inadmissibility of evidence tainted by torture

Atlas of Torture: Online Events on the Inadmissibility of Evidence Tainted by Torture

In the week from 21 to 25 February 2022, on our Atlas of Torture – Exchange Platform we have published every day contributions of renowned national and international experts to discuss how to better ensure that evidence obtained by torture is not used in legal proceedings. The event on the Atlas of Torture will be followed by an Online Workshop, taking place on 13.5.2022, 10:00 – 13:00 CET. The workshop aims to bring together the different experts and further facilitate the exchange on the topic, enabling a lively discussion, as well as mutual learning among the participants.

NATIONAL ROUND TABLE: Strengthening Procedural Rights in Austrian Practice

Procedural rights in police custody (ProRPC)

On 1st and 2nd February 2022, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR) organised a virtual national roundtable for experts on "Strengthening Procedural Rights in Austrian Practice". The event is part of the EU funded project From Law to Practice: Strengthening Procedural Rights in Police Custody, in which the LBI-GMR, together with partner organisations from Spain, Romania, Ireland and Belgium, is researching Best Practice examples in the area of the rights of suspects at the earliest stage of criminal proceedings and developing possible implementation pathways.

JUSTICE FOR ALL: Enhancing the Rights of Defendants and Detainees with Intellectual and/or Psychosocial Disabilities. EU Cross-Border Transfers, Detention and Alternatives

The JUSTICE FOR ALL project aims to improve the rights and conditions of defendants and detainees with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities.

Ko-finanziert durch das Justizprogramm der Europäischen Union
Ko-finanziert durch das Bundesministerium für Justiz der Bundesrepublik Österreich

PUBLICATION "Open research behind closed doors: Assessing the impact of Covid-19 measures on persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities deprived of liberty”

Nora Katona, Elisabeth Mayer, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has noticeably changed the way we interact and live in society. While it affects all of us, its impact is not the same for everyone. Persons deprived of liberty are in a particularly vulnerable situation. The present document discusses which challenges institutions encounter in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria, Germany and Italy and gives recommendations on how to mitigate them to improve the situation of persons concerned.

FINAL REPORT: SEE NPM Network ‘Strengthening the prevention of torture in South-East Europe’

Partner organisations

Within the criminal justice system, the first hours of police custody bear the highest risks of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Fundamental safeguards can greatly mitigate such risks and contribute to preventing potential abuses during police custody. Relevant fundamental safeguards encompass the rights of access to a lawyer, the right of access to a doctor, the right to notify the detention to a third party as well as the right to be informed about these rights.