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1 March 2007

The newly-created Sub-committee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) held its first session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 19 to 23 February 2007. The SPT consists of 10 independent experts who will work with national preventive mechanisms and carry out regular unannounced visits to places of detention in all States parties to the Optional Protocol.

The SPT was established according to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

In a message to the opening session, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she was convinced the SPT’s visiting mechanism could constitute a true innovation to “strike at the structural or root causes of torture and cruel punishment and ill-treatment, thus bringing about the changes required to ensure that places of detention are free from such conduct”.

The 10 members of the SPT sworn in at the inaugural meeting are: Silvia CASALE (United Kingdom), Mario Luis Coriolano (Argentina), Marija Definis Gojanovic (Croatia), Hans Draminsky Petersen (Denmark), Zdenek Hajek (Czech Republic), Zbigniew Lasocik (Poland), Victor Manuel Rodriguez Rescia (Costa Rica), Miguel Sarre Iguiniz (Mexico), Wilder Tayler Souto (Uruguay) and Leopoldo Torres Boursault (Spain). Once 50 States have ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol, the number of Subcommittee members will increase to 25. So far, 32 States have done so.

The SPT also elected its first Bureau, for a two-year term. The Chairperson is Ms. CASALE, and the two Vice-Chairpersons are Mr. RODRIGUEZ RESCIA and Mr. DRAMINSKY PETERSEN.

For further information on the Sub-committee on Prevention, please consult the website http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/opcat/