Geneva (28 August 2017) - The United Nations torture prevention body urged the State Party of Panama to promptly put in place an independent and effective national mechanism for the prevention of torture compliant with international standards.
The request was made at the end of the first visit to Panama by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), when the delegation submitted its preliminary observations to the Panamanian authorities.
Following the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2011, the State of Panama assumed the international obligation to create a national preventive mechanism (NPM) within one year.
"The SPT regrets the delay in the establishment of the NPM. This national mechanism is a key instrument to improve the conditions of detention and prevent violations against persons deprived of their liberty,” said Lorena González Pinto, who headed the delegation.
During its stay in Panama from August 20 to 26, the delegation met with state authorities, the Ombudsman, representatives of civil society and UN agencies.
The SPT visited 13 places of deprivation of liberty in the cities of Panama and Colon. Among others, the SPT visited prisons, police stations, a psychiatric institution, a nursing home for elders as well as juvenile and migrant detention centres.
The delegation conducted private interviews with persons deprived of their liberty, prison officials, police and medical personnel, obtaining solid findings on the situation of persons deprived of their liberty and prison conditions.
Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Government of Panama, which will include its observations and recommendations on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment. The SPT encourages Panama to make the report public. The dissemination of the report will foster a transparent national dialogue on the implementation of the recommendations.
The SPT delegation was composed of Lorena González Pinto, Felipe Villavicencio Terreros, Nora Sveaass and Roberto Fehér Pérez.
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The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees, and it has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
*The OPCAT is a unique international human rights treaty which assists States to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are co-operation and confidentiality.
The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 83 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to the State by means of a confidential report, and if necessary to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, State parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public. You can find more information about the SPT here.
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