01 March 2007

OPCAT project

for the past three days i've been attending a meeting on campaigning for the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT (optional protocol to the convention against torture) in four asian countries. this is an EU funded project, coordinated through the RCT (rehabilitation and research centre for torture victims, denmark).

it has been very interesting; it is the first time for me to learn in so much detail of the various campaign techniques and activities to be used in the different countries. ahrc work is quite different (and we definitely do not plan in such meticulous detail over such a long period!). in particular, i was fascinated to learn to make use of the principle 'everything is about something else'. there was much creative discussion on how visits to places of detention can be used as an entry point to general torture prevention policies, how documenting police torture of ordinary citizens can get civil society involved in demanding for the ratification of OPCAT, how school essay competitions can promote youth interest in human rights, and so forth.

the project has national coordinators for each of the countries, as well as one regional coordinator to be based at our office in hk. there will be numerous visits to the four countries as well as elsewhere, and there are so many components and actors involved. one of the RCT staff who was involved in writing the project proposal for the EU was excited to finally see what was on paper coming into practice; i couldn't help but share her excitement. i am involved in the project in the tiniest of ways, in that i will be writing an hrcs lesson on it, which will then be used as part of the campaign material. that task should be over in a month or so, but i hope to continue being involved .. i will have to think about what else i could do (in particular, what else that would require me to tag along on the various visits!).. the project just seems like a wonderful platform for me to get involved in other things, as well as do more writing and research..

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