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16 February 2007

A new international panel for the prevention of torture will meet for the first time in Geneva from 19 to 23 February to lay the groundwork for its future work.
The ten members of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture will be able to visit, unannounced, places of detention around the world in the countries that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
The Subcommittee complements the existing United Nations framework to combat torture, which includes the Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

The Subcommittee was established in accordance with Optional Protocol, which entered into force in June 2006. The treaty creates a two-pillar system, at the international and national levels, directed at preventing torture and other forms of ill treatment in all places of detention. The Subcommittee will function at the international level, while at the national level, States must put in place one or several national, independent preventive mechanisms within one year of accepting the Optional Protocol. Both the international and national bodies will conduct regular visits to any place of detention and can hold private interviews with persons of their choice.

The 10 members of the Subcommittee are: Silvia Casale (United Kingdom), Leopoldo Torres Boursault (Spain), Miguel Sarre Iguiniz (Mexico), Mario Luis Coriolano (Argentina), Zdenek Hajek (Czech Republic), Hans Draminsky Petersen (Denmark), Victor Manuel Rodriguez Rescia (Costa Rica), Zbigniew Lasocik (Poland), Wilder Tayler Souto (Uruguay), Marija Definis Gorjanovic (Croatia).

Thirty-two States parties have ratified the Optional Protocol: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Honduras, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.