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Tunisia torture prevention: UN body to make advisory visit

Torture prevention

08 April 2016

GENEVA (8 April 2016) –Tunisia’s efforts to establish a functioning independent body to monitor places of detention will be the focus of the first visit to the country by the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) from 12 to 14 April.

Tunisia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in June 2011 and, as part of its treaty obligations, has to set up such a monitoring body, officially known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). Tunisia passed legislation in 2013 to establish the body and its 16 members were appointed in March this year.

“Tunisia is the first country in the region to establish, albeit with some delay, a national preventive mechanism. We see this as a hugely positive step and look forward to advising the Government, as well as other stakeholders, on the next steps to ensure the body is swiftly able to function effectively,” said Hans-Jörg Bannwart, who will head the three-member SPT delegation. “We are especially looking forward to meeting the newly elected members of the NPM in order to discuss with them the challenges they will face in setting up and starting work,” he added.

“A monitoring body able to independently visit and assess places where people are deprived of their liberty, including prisons, police stations and psychiatric hospitals, is a crucial element in preventing torture and ill-treatment,” Mr Bannwart stressed

The SPT delegation is due to hold meetings with government officials, members of parliament and the judiciary, the Tunisian Bar Association and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Following the visit, the SPT will send a confidential report to the Tunisian Government which will remain confidential unless the Government decides to make it public. 

The SPT has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol (OPCAT) and can make unannounced visits to places of detention. It also makes, as in this case, advisory visits regarding the functioning of national preventive mechanisms.

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 will comprise:  Hans-Jörg Bannwart (Switzerland); Suzanne Jabbour (Lebanon) and Joachim Kojo (Togo).


For media inquiries, please contact:
Ichrak Ben Ezzine, + 216 712 86 303 / + 216 987 45 086 / [email protected]
Joao Nataf, +41 79-201-0122 / [email protected]
Geneva: Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 / [email protected]

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 81 States Parties. More about the SPT:

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