Note: States parties do not include States having achieved signature or succession to signature, but not having achieved ratification of, or accession or succession to, the OPCAT.
Members of the Subcommittee
Ms. Silvia Casale (Chairperson)Mr. Mario Luis CoriolanoMs. Marija Definis GojanovicMr. Zdenek HajekMr. Zbigniew LasocikMr. Hans Draminsky Petersen (Vice-Chairperson)Mr. Victor Manuel Rodriguez Rescia (Vice-Chairperson)Mr. Miguel Sarre IguinizMr. Wilder Tayler SoutoMr. Leopoldo Torres Boursault
Visits carried out in the period covered by the first annual report
1. First periodic visit to Mauritius: 8-18 October 2007
Places of deprivation of liberty visited by the delegation:
Riviere des Anguilles
Port Louis north district
Beau Bassin Central Prison
New Wing Prison
Petite Riviere juvenile detention centre
Beau Bassin rehabilitation youth centre
Facilities under the Ministry for Women’s Rights, Child Development and Consumer Protection
Shelter for children and distressed women in Albion
2. First periodic visit to Maldives: 10-17 December 2007
Places of deprivation of liberty visited by the delegation:
NATIONAL POLICE SERVICE
Police detention centres
Male Custodial (Atholhuvehi Detention Centre)
Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre
Male Police headquarters (Hussein Adam building)
Maafanu Police station
Vilingili Police station
Addu Atholhu Police station
Fuvamulah (Fuahmulaku) Police station
Hulhumeedhoo Police station
Kulhudhufushi Police station
Hoarafushi Police station
Ha. Dhidhdoo Police station
Hithadhoo Police station
Male prison (Male remand centre)
Male new prison building
Hithadhoo new prison building
ESTABLISHMENTS UNDER THE MINISTRY OF GENDER & FAMILY
Vilingili children’s home
Himmafushi drug rehabilitation centre
Feydhoofinolhu detoxification centre
ESTABLISHMENT UNDER THE NATIONAL SECURITY SERVICES
Girifushi NSS training centre
ESTABLISHMENT UNDER THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Maafushi education and training centre for children
3. First periodic visit to Sweden: 10-14 March 2008
Places of deprivation of liberty visited by the delegation:
NATIONAL POLICE SERVICE
Police detention centres
Solna (Stockholm region)
Kronoberg remand prison (Kronoberg häktet, Stockholm)
Uppsala remand prison (Uppsala häktet Blankahuset)
Uppsala remand prison (Uppsala häktet Salagatan)
Programme of regular Subcommittee visits for 2008
Sweden: 5 days (10-14 March)
Benin: 8 days (18-26 May 2008)
Mexico: 14 days (second half of 2008)
Paraguay:9 days (second half of 2008)
Outline of a regular SUBCOMMITTEE visit
Before a regular SPT visit
The SPT notifies the State Party concerned in writing in advance of the planned dates of a regular visit. The SPT also notifies the State Party in writing of the names of the SPT members who will take part in the visiting delegation, the names of external experts who will assist the delegation, as well as the names of the members of the SPT Secretariat who will support the delegation.
The SPT requests information to be provided in advance of the visit, as detailed in the list of official information requested from States Parties.
During the SPT visit
The SPT delegation carries out the visit according to the principle of co-operation and maintains strict confidentiality concerning its work and its findings.
During the visit, the SPT delegation meets with senior officials of the Ministry responsible for law enforcement (police) and with senior officials of the Ministries responsible for the custody of persons held in pre-trial detention, prison, military detention, immigration detention, psychiatric or social care institutions or any other place where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty. The meetings are scheduled in consultation with the liaison officer(s) for the visit.
The SPT delegation also meets with the NPM(s), if already set up, and discusses all aspects of the establishment and functioning of the NPM(s). If the process of setting up the NPM(s) is still occurring, the delegation meets with persons involved in its establishment. The SPT takes the view that NPM development is an on-going process which the SPT will continue to monitor.
The SPT also meets with national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and non‑governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as with others who have information relevant to the SPT’s mandate.
The SPT visits a variety of places of deprivation of liberty and speaks in confidence with persons held there and with staff and other persons involved in work relating to such places.
At the end of the visit, the SPT delegation has a final meeting with senior officials of the relevant ministries and bodies. The meeting is an opportunity for the SPT delegation to present its preliminary observations and for a confidential discussion concerning the visit, including issues related to the national preventive mechanism(s) and to the treatment of person deprived of their liberty in places visited. This meeting is an opportunity to identify issues and situations requiring immediate action, as well as other elements of law, system and practice requiring improvement in order to reinforce the safeguards against ill-treatment for persons deprived of their liberty. The authorities may wish to provide immediate feedback on some issues.
The SPT issues a brief written press release indicating that a SPT visit has taken place to the State Party concerned, with a list of the SPT members in the visiting delegation and the persons accompanying them. The press statement indicates that the SPT met with senior officials of the Ministries listed, with representatives of the NPM(s) or potential NPM(s), with NHRIs, NGOs and others and that the SPT visited the places of detention listed.
After the SPT visit
After the visit, but before the adoption of the visit report, the authorities are invited to provide information about developments since the visit in relation to some of the issues raised during the final talks. The SPT will take any such information provided by the authorities into consideration in its visit report.
A confidential report on the visit is subsequently drawn up and adopted by the SPT for transmission to the State Party. The State Party is requested to respond to the recommendations made in the report and to any requests for further information according to a timetable specified in the letter of transmission accompanying the report. The SPT visit report remains confidential until the State Party requests its publication, together with any comments the State Party might wish to make.
The SPT is committed to co-operative and constructive working relationships with the States Parties.
The SUBCOMMITTEE in Brief
“The objective of the [Optional] Protocol is to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (Article 1 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, (OPCAT))
“A Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture ...shall be established and shall carry out the functions laid down in the present [Optional] Protocol.” (Article 2.1 of the OPCAT)
The OPCAT obliges States to set up independent national bodies for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment at the domestic level. These preventive national mechanisms must be established one year after the entry into force of the OPCAT or of its ratification or accession.
The mandate of the SPT is twofold: to visit all places of detention in States Parties and to provide assistance and advice to both States Parties and National Preventive Mechanisms.
The SPT is composed of 10 independent and impartial experts serving in their individual capacity from different backgrounds and from various countries, which have ratified or acceded to the OPCAT. After the fiftieth ratification of or accession, the number of the members of the SPT shall increase to twenty-five.
SPT membership is multidisciplinary, including lawyers, doctors and inspection experts, among others. Members are elected by States Parties for a four-year term; the term of half the members elected at the first election will expire at the end of two years. They are eligible for re‑election once if renominated.
The SPT visits police stations, prisons (military and civilian), detention centres (e.g. pre‑trial detention centres, immigration detention centres, juvenile justice establishments, etc…), mental health and social care institutions and any other places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. It recommends action to be taken to improve the treatment of detainees, including conditions of detention.
The visits are conducted by at least two members of the SPT. These members may be accompanied, if needed, by experts of demonstrated professional experience and knowledge in the field. These experts are selected from a roster of experts prepared on the basis of proposals made by States Parties, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention. In preparing the roster, the States Parties concerned may propose no more than five national experts.
Under the OPCAT, the SPT has unrestricted access to all places of detention, their installations and facilities and to all relevant information relating to the treatment and conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty The SPT must also be granted access to have private interviews with the persons deprived of their liberty, without witnesses, and to any other person who in the SPT’s view may supply relevant information.
The States Parties undertake to ensure that there are no sanctions or reprisals for providing information to SPT members.
Assistance and advice
According to the OPCAT, the SPT’s mandate includes advising and assisting States in the establishment of the NPMs. These national mechanisms have the mandate to examine regularly the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and make recommendations to the States’ authorities in order to improve the conditions of detention. In the framework of the close co‑operation between the SPT and the States Parties, the SPT will make itself available for ongoing dialogue concerning the NPMs. Advising States in the development of effective national preventive mechanisms is a key element in the work of the SPT and will form an important part of each visit.
The SPT advises States Parties about reinforcing the powers, independence and capacity of NPMs. The SPT also provides NPMs with advice on and assistance in reinforcing their independence and capacities and strengthening safeguards against ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. The SPT works in close collaboration with the NPMs, in order to ensure ongoing monitoring of all places of detention.
The OPCAT requires that the composition of the NPMs be established in accordance with a process providing all necessary guarantees of the independence of the NPMs, including the pluralist representation of civil society.
The SPT is guided by core principles: confidentiality, impartiality, non-selectivity, universality and objectivity. The OPCAT is based on co-operation between the SPT and the States Parties. During its visits, the SPT’s members meet with State officials, NPMs, representatives of national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, as well as with any other person who can provide information relevant to the mandate.
The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations confidentially to the State, and if necessary, to the national preventive mechanisms. The SPT will publish the report, together with comments from the State Party, whenever requested to do so by the State Party.
However, if the State Party makes part of the report public, the SPT may publish all or part of the report. Moreover, if a country refuses to co-operate or fails to take steps to improve the situation in light of the SPT’s recommendations, the SPT may request the Committee against Torture to make a public statement or to publish the SPT report.
The SPT presents a public annual report on its activities to the Committee against Torture.
The OPCAT entered into force on 22 June 2006. It is subject to ratification or is open to accession by any State that has ratified or acceded to the Convention against Torture. No reservations shall be made to the Protocol. As of February 2008, there were 34 States Parties.
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) (www.ohchr.org/english/law/cat-one.htm)
Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (www.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm)
Committee against Torture General Comment No. 2 (www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/CAT.C.GC.2.CRP.1.Rev.4_en.pdf)
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (www.ohchr.org/english/law/treatmentprisoners.htm)
Members of the SPT
1.Ms. Silvia Casale (Chairperson)2.Mr. Mario Luis Coriolano3.Ms. Marija Definis Gojanovic4.Mr. Zdenek Hajek5.Mr. Zbigniew Lasocik6.Mr. Hans Draminsky Petersen (Vice-Chairperson)7.Mr. Victor Manuel Rodriguez Rescia (Vice-Chairperson)8.Mr. Miguel Sarre Iguiniz9.Mr. Wilder Tayler Souto10.Mr. Leopoldo Torres Boursault
For further information:Secretariat of the SPTOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human RightsUNOG-OHCHRPalais WilsonRue des Pâquis, 521211 Geneva, SwitzerlandTel : +41 22 917 00 00Fax : +41 22 917 90 08E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.orgInternet : www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/opcat Annex VII
FactFile on the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT
What is the SPT?
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) is one of the United Nations mechanisms directed to the prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. It started its work in February 2007.
By the end of January 2008, 34 States from all regions of the world had accepted the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The Protocol gives the SPT the right to visit all places of detention in those States and examine the treatment of people held there.
The Protocol also obliges States to set up independent national preventive mechanisms to examine the treatment of people in detention, make recommendations to government authorities to strengthen protection against torture and comment on existing or proposed legislation. The SPT assists and advises the national preventive mechanisms about ways to strengthen safeguards relating to detention and reinforce their powers and independence.
What does the SPT do?
The SPT visits police stations, prisons (military and civilian), detention centers (pre-trial detention, immigration detention, juvenile justice establishments, etc...), mental health and social care institutions and any other places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. It recommends action to be taken to improve the treatment of detainees. It does not provide legal advice or assist in litigation, and it cannot provide financial assistance.
How does the SPT do its work?
The SPT examines conditions of individuals’ daily lives in places of detention. SPT members talk in private with people in custody, without the presence of prison or other staff or Government’s representatives. Members also talk with Government officials, custodial staff, lawyers, doctors, etc, and can recommend immediate changes. Their work is governed by strict confidentiality and they do not give out names or details. People who provide information to the SPT may not be subject to sanctions or reprisals for having provided information to the SPT.
Who are the SPT members?
The SPT is composed of 10 independent and impartial members from various countries which have accepted the Protocol. They have different backgrounds: lawyers, doctors, inspection experts etc. All the SPT members have experience of human rights work. They serve in their individual capacity, do not work for any Government and receive no instruction from state authorities.
Secretariat of the SPT - UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) - Palais Wilson - 52, rue des Pâquis, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 00 - Fax: +41 22 917 90 08 – opcat@ohchrorg - www.ohchr.org
SUBCOMMITTEE members’ participation in OPTIONAL PROTOCOL ‑related activities
First Regional Seminar on the Implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture during the official meeting of high-level human rights authorities of MERCOSUR. Convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay and the APT, May 2007. (Victor Rodríguez Rescia, Miguel Sarre, Mario Coriolano)
Peru and Bolivia: Activities related to NPM establishment in both countries September 2007. (Mario Coriolano, Victor Rodríguez Rescia)
Brazil: Workshop on NPM, convened by the Brazil Human Rights Secretariat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the APT, April 2007. (Mario Coriolano)
Seminar on combating torture - the OPCAT and the NPM - in study visit, convened by British Council, London, November 2007. (Silvia Casale)
Jordan: Regional seminar on monitoring human rights in places of detention, convened by the APT, RCT, Mizan and the Jordan National Institute of Human Rights. Amman, September 2007. (Hans Draminsky Petersen)
Indonesia: Roundtable discussion on the OPCAT, convened by the APT and ELSAM. Jakarta, November 2007. (Wilder Tayler)
Austria: OPCAT preparatory meeting organised by the Geschäftsstelle des Menschenrechtsbeirates and the Ministry of the Interior. Vienna, September, 2007. (Zbigniew Lasocik)
Denmark: OPCAT Contact group meeting. Copenhagen, November 2007. (Hans Draminsky Petersen)
France: Colloquium on the Prevention of Ill-treatment in Places of Detention in Europe, organised by the Médiateur de la République and the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner. Paris, January 2008. (Hans Draminsky Petersen)
Ireland: Protecting and Promoting Human Rights, Dublin. September 2007
Spain: Working meeting on the NPM in Spain with relevant governmental, non‑governmental representatives and experts, convened by the APT and AEDIDH (the Spanish association for the development and application of international human rights law), Madrid), May 2007. (Leopoldo Torres Boursault)
Follow-up meeting, convened by AEDIDH and APT. The Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation (Madrid), June 2007. (Leopoldo Torres Boursault)
Preparatory meeting with NGOs on establishment of Spanish NPM. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Madrid), October 2007. (Leopoldo Torres Boursault)
Switzerland: APT Annual Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, May 2007
U.K.: First Annual OPCAT Implementation Conference, Bristol University. Bristol, April 2007. (Silvia Casale, Mario Coriolano, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Zdenek Hajek, Hans Draminsky Petersen)
OPCAT Contact Group
Amnesty International (AI)Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT)Bristol University OPCAT project International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC)Penal Reform International (PRI)Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT)World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)
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