Back International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: interview with Hugh Chetwynd, Executive Secretary of the CPT

To mark this day, Hugh Chetwynd, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), shares his thoughts on the role and impact of the CPT and the approach of European societies to conditions of deprivation of liberty.
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: interview with Hugh Chetwynd, Executive Secretary of the CPT

Co-operation, confidentiality and dialogue: the pillars of the CPT.

For Hugh Chetwynd, cooperation, confidentiality and dialogue are essential to the success of the CPT's mission. “Our purpose is to realise that there are no perfect systems, but to help states overcome the challenges they are faced with, he explains. As a non-judicial body, the CPT works with states in a spirit of cooperation, aiming to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty by offering advice rather than condemnation.

Expected increase in the number of detentions of foreign nationals

"We are likely to see increased amounts of detention of foreign nationals at the entrances to the borders of particularly the European union."

Current trends in the deprivation of liberty reflect significant political and social changes. The rise of authoritarianism is leading to arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment, phenomena closely monitored by the CPT.  A full report was devoted to this issue in 2023: "The prevention of ill-treatment of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty in the context of forced removals at borders".

Continuing concern about prison overcrowding

"Despite the levels of criminality coming down across Europe, we see the prison population going up, leading to a deterioration in prison conditions", says Hugh Chetwynd. For more than 20 years, prison overcrowding has been a priority for the CPT. The latest SPACE report (2023) highlights this problem, pointing to a sharp increase in the prison population. Since 2022, this problem has worsened in many European countries.

"A societal approach is needed”

Hugh Chetwynd stresses that responsibility does not lie solely with detention institutions, but with society as a whole. To really improve detention conditions and ensure respect for human rights, a collective effort is needed, involving governments, non-governmental organisations, health and legal professionals, and the community in general: "We’re holding up a mirror to what is happening. We don’t have all the solutions but by working together with countries, we recognize that there is a scope to improve people’s treatment in detention”, he explains.



  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page