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Netherlands detention monitoring body needs more political support – UN experts

GENEVA (3 August 2015) – More needs to be done in the Netherlands to make the body that monitors places of detention fully independent, effective and in line with the country’s international obligations, UN experts have said at an end of an official visit.

“The fight against inhuman or degrading treatment is a continuous process and the designation of a national monitoring body is not the end but the beginning,” said Mari Amos, head of a three-member delegation from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) which visited the Netherlands from 28 to 31 July.

“More work needs to be done to make this body fully independent and effective in line with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other relevant international standards,” said Ms. Amos.

The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees. It monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol (OPCAT) are implementing its provisions, including setting up a national independent monitoring body known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The Netherlands ratified the OPCAT in September 2010.

The SPT delegation visited the Netherlands to provide advice and technical assistance to the monitoring body and to the government.

“We consider that more political support and a solid legal base are required to enable the Dutch National Preventive Mechanism to fully and efficiently discharge its key mandate under the Optional Protocol,” said Ms. Amos.

During their visit, the SPT delegation met government officials, the Ombudsperson and representatives from the Dutch NPM, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, and civil society. The SPT members carried out a capacity building exercise with NPM representatives through joint visits to a men’s prison and a youth detention centre.

“We were pleased to have had the opportunity to find out more about the domestic monitoring bodies and the SPT remains available to them and the Dutch authorities with all relevant support and advice,” Ms. Amos said.

The SPT will submit separate, confidential reports to the Dutch Government and the NPM with observations and recommendations.

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 cooperation and confidentiality.

The SPT delegation was: Mari Amos, Maria Margarida E. Pressburger and Aneta Stanchevska.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Mari Amos: +3725119348 / mari.amos@gmx.com
Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 7520488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org


The SPT has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The Optional Protocol has to date been ratified by 79 countries. States parties are obliged to set up a monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism within a year of ratifying the Protocol.

In accordance with its mandate, the SPT undertakes advisory visits to National Preventive Mechanisms. During such visits, the SPT seeks to support and reinforce the NPM’s mandate and effective functioning by providing technical advice and assistance to both the NPM and the State party, and through practical capacity building activities.

More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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