GENEVA (May 4, 2018) – Belize must establish an independent national preventive mechanism to avert and deter torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty, UN experts said after concluding their first visit to the country.
The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) was in Belize from 22 to 27 April 2018, visiting the central prison, various police stations throughout the country, as well as a juvenile institution, where members of the delegation freely interviewed staff as well as people deprived of their liberty. The SPT delegation also met with members of civil society and held meetings with government ministers, the Chief Justice, and the Ombudsman.
“Belize should strive to establish a national preventive body as soon as possible, ensuring that it is functionally independent, adequately resourced and mandated to carry out unannounced visits to places where people are deprived of liberty,” said Sir Malcolm Evans, who headed the delegation. “When the national preventive mechanism is established, it will help the authorities improve the conditions of detention and ensure an effective policy for preventing torture and ill-treatment in the country,” he added.
A national preventive mechanism is an independent national body with power to regularly examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in places of detention, and to subsequently make recommendations to the authorities. States parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which Belize acceded to in 2015, must establish such a mechanism within a year of ratification. Belize has not yet done so.
The SPT will produce a confidential report containing its observations and recommendations which it will share with the Government of Belize, and encourages the government to make the report public.
The SPT Delegation was composed of the following members: Sir Malcolm Evans, Head of Delegation (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Mr. Arman Danielyan (Armenia), Ms. June Lopez (Philippines), Ms. Aisha Shujune Muhammad (Maldives) and Mr. Victor Zaharia (Republic of Moldova).
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The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has been ratified by 87 countries. The SPT’s work is guided by the principles of confidentiality and cooperation. The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. For additional information, please go here.