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UN torture prevention body announces country visits for 2015 – agenda includes Guatemala, Italy and the Philippines

GENEVA (26 November 2014) – Guatemala, Italy, Nauru and the Philippines are among the countries the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) plans to visit in 2015.

In addition, after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani authorities, the SPT is to return to Azerbaijan. Its September 2014 mission there was suspended after the Subcommittee encountered obstructions in carrying out its mandate.

The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees. It works with national governments that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The SPT will also conduct advisory visits to the Netherlands and Turkey regarding their national preventive mechanisms (NPMs), which are independent, national bodies that monitor places of detention. The SPT also plans two follow-up visits to previously visited countries. 

“This will be the most far-reaching programme of work which the SPT has so far undertaken,” said Chairperson Malcolm Evans.  “The process agreed by the UN General Assembly this year to strengthen the work of all 10 human rights treaty bodies concluded that there should be a renewed emphasis on providing states with technical advice and assistance on how to comply with their treaty obligations – and this is exactly what the mandate of the SPT under the OPCAT provides for. We are looking forward to the challenge of fulfilling that task.” 

With 76 states having ratified the Optional Protocol, it was essential that the SPT continued to work ever more closely with national, regional and other international mechanisms involved in the prevention of torture,. Mr. Evans explained.

“We look forward to deepening our contacts with National Mechanisms and will continue to explore new ways of making their and our work as effective as possible, so that we can better protect the rights of those deprived of their liberty to be free torture or ill-treatment,” the SPT Chair said.

 “The SPT is at the centre of this international framework of independent torture prevention mechanisms and we need to become ever more closely involved in encouraging and supporting all those involved in this work, at whatever level,” said Mr. Evans.


Background: The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 76 countries. During a country mission, the SPT delegation visits places of deprivation of liberty. At the end of the visit, the SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to the State by means of a confidential report, and if necessary to NPMs. However, State parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public. The SPT also reserves the right to amend its plan of work should the circumstances so require, and will inform the State party or national preventive mechanism as soon as is practical.

Find out more about the Optional Protocol:

For media inquiries, please contact Liz Throssell, UN Human Rights Media Unit - +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org
For additional information, please contact Joao Nataf, SPT Secretary, Human Rights Treaty Division - +41 (0) 22 917 9102/ jnataf@ohchr.org

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