GENEVA (6 May 2015) - The UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has ended its first visit to Nauru, which focussed on the situation of people being detained on the island and the need to establish an independent body to monitor places of detention.
During their three-day visit, the SPT delegation visited Nauru's police station and prison, as well as the Regional Processing Center (RPC) for asylum-seekers, a large facility comprising three separate units housing men, women and families with children who have been attempting to reach Australia.
"We were pleased to be able to visit all places of deprivation of liberty on the island," said Malcolm Evans, the chair of the SPT and head of the three-member delegation.
The SPT monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are meeting their treaty obligations, which include setting up a monitoring body known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). Nauru became a party to OPCAT in January 2013 and an NPM should have been in place one year after that.
"Given the number of people currently being held on the island, the establishment of an NPM to address their needs and their situation becomes even more pressing," said Professor Evans. Against this background, Prof. Evans indicated that the SPT delegation was encouraged to receive the Government's assurances that this mechanism would be established as soon as possible.
"The SPT would be pleased to respond to any request by the Government of the Republic of Nauru for assistance. It is, of course, essential that this mechanism is able to operate effectively and independently in all facilities on the island," Prof. Evans stressed.
The SPT delegation was composed of: Malcolm Evans, June Lopez and Nora Sveaass.
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The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty through visiting, monitoring and advising all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
States are obliged to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered access to all places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. States parties also have to establish a National Preventive Mechanism, which is expected to carry out regular monitoring visits of places of deprivation of liberty in all parts of the country.
More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx