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UN torture prevention experts announce visits to Panama, Mongolia and Spain

GENEVA (29 November 2016) – Panama, Mongolia and Spain are among the countries that the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) plans to visit in 2017 to assess the treatment of people deprived of their liberty, as well as the measures taken for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

Under the SPT’s mandate, members may make unannounced visits to any places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty, including prisons, police stations, centres for migrants, security services, interrogation facilities and psychiatric hospitals. In addition, the SPT provides advice to national authorities on the establishment of national detention monitoring bodies, known as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM). It also cooperates and assists the NPMs on their functioning.

The next phase of the SPT visiting programme was finalized during its latest session which also marked the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

In the last 10 years, SPT members have made more than 50 visits, delivering recommendations that improved the efficiency of the NPMs. This has led to better access to legal representation and information for detainees, including children, improved conditions of detention as well as to better training for judges, police, prison staff and health professionals.

“Under the OPCAT, the SPT has a unique mandate to protect detainees against torture and ill treatment. No other institution has the same leverage globally. In its 10 years, SPT changed the reality of detainees in 83 countries and we hope that this is just a start and that more countries will accept its mandate by ratifying the OPCAT,” said SPT Chair Malcolm Evans.

During its latest session, the SPT has also decided to add Nauru to the list of countries that have failed to establish a national detention monitoring body within four years of ratification. The list is currently composed of: Argentina, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria and Panama.

In the coming months, the SPT will also visit: Hungary, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bolivia and Rwanda.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
Joao Nataf, SPT Secretary, Human Rights Treaty Branch: + 41 (0) 22 917 9102/ jnataf@ohchr.org
For media inquiries, please contact:
In Geneva: Nicoleta Panta, +41 (0) 22 /917 9310/npanta@ohchr.org

Background:

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

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