Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur with a firsthand account of the situation concerning torture, including institutional and legislative factors that contribute to such practices.
Visits are undertaken only at the invitation of a Government. However, the Special Rapporteur may solicit an invitation, based on factors such as the number, credibility and gravity of the allegations received, and the potential impact that the mission may have on the overall human rights situation.
Before a visit takes place, the Government is asked to provide the following
guarantees to the Special Rapporteur and accompanying United Nations staff:
- freedom of movement throughout the country,
- freedom of inquiry, especially in terms of access to all prisons, detention centres and places of interrogation,
- free contact with central and local authorities of all branches of government,
- free contact with representatives of NGOs, other private institutions and the media,
- confidential and unsupervised contacts, where the Special Rapporteur's mandate so requires, with witnesses and other private individuals, including persons deprived of their liberty,
- full access to all documentary material relevant to the mandate, and
- assurances that no persons, be they officials or private individuals, who have been in contact with the Special Rapporteur will suffer threats, harassment or punishment or be subjected to judicial proceedings.
During the visit the Special Rapporteur meets with:
- government authorities,
- representatives of the legal profession,
- alleged victims and relatives of victims. The conclusions and recommendations contained in the Special Rapporteur's mission report are intended to assist Governments in identifying factors which may contribute to torture, and provide practical solutions to implement international standards.