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Torture prevention: UN body to resume visit to Ukraine, and announces visits for 2017 including Rwanda, Bolivia and Hungary

GENEVA (28 June 2016) – Rwanda, Bolivia, Hungary and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are among the countries that the UN torture prevention body plans to visit during the first half of 2017 to assess the conditions of people deprived of their liberty and to help improve the independent monitoring of places of detention. 

The programme was decided during the annual meeting of the 25-member Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) in Geneva. Members also discussed resuming the SPT’s visit to Ukraine. The previous one was halted on 25 May after the SPT delegation was prevented from accessing facilities of the Security Service of Ukraine. 

“We have had positive talks with the Ukrainian authorities and received assurances that Ukraine will now fully abide by its obligation to allow the SPT to visit places where people are deprived of their liberty. We hope to return to Ukraine as soon as practically possible,” said SPT Chair Malcolm Evans. 

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).

Under the SPT’s mandate, members may make unannounced visits to places where people are deprived of their liberty, including prisons, police stations and psychiatric hospitals. The SPT also works with national governments and provides advice and assistance to national independent monitoring bodies known as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM).

“The work of national monitoring bodies is vital, which is why the SPT is renewing its calls to those countries that have not set up such a body to make this a priority for torture prevention,” the Chair said. 

The SPT is making public a list of those countries that have failed to establish a national monitoring body within four years of ratification: Argentina, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria and Panama. The list is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/Article17.aspx

“We hope that these countries will establish their NPM as soon as possible and stand ready to give advice and assistance on this,” said Malcolm Evans. 

The Optional Protocol came into force in 2006, some three and a half years after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly and to date has been ratified by 81 States. The SPT will mark the Optional Protocol’s 10th anniversary with a special meeting in Geneva in November this year.


In Geneva: Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org

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

The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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