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UN torture prevention body to visit South Africa

23 February 2023

GENEVA (23 February 2023) – The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will visit South Africa from 26 February to 9 March to assess the situation of people deprived of their liberty and the protections available to keep them safe from torture and ill-treatment.

“This is the SPT´s first visit to South Africa, an important regional player in the fight to prevent torture and ill-treatment. During our mission, we will conduct confidential interviews in various places of deprivation of liberty across the country,” said Abdallah Ounnir, Head of the SPT delegation.

“We will also work with South African authorities to fulfil their treaty obligations, in particular, to establish an independent national preventative mechanism that is fully in line with the provisions of the Optional Protocol, with an adequate mandate and resources,” he added.

Ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2019, South Africa is one of the 91 States parties to the Optional Protocol.

The SPT delegation will visit prisons, police stations, detention facilities and various other places of deprivation of liberty. They plan to meet with government officials, the South African Human Rights Commission, and other actors, and to advise and assist relevant authorities regarding the solidification of the national preventative mechanism. The delegation will also hold meetings with representatives of civil society.

At the end of the visit, the SPT will present its confidential preliminary observations to the Government of South Africa.

The SPT delegation will be composed of Abdallah Ounnir, Head of the Delegation (Morocco), Vasiliki Artinopoulou (Greece), Shujune Muhammad (Maldives), and Elīna Šteinerte (Latvia).


For more information and media requests in Geneva, please contact:

Vivian Kwok at [email protected], or
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at [email protected]


The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which to date has been ratified by 91 countries. The Subcommittee is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Subcommittee has the mandate to visit States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, during the course of which it may visit any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty and assist those States in preventing torture and ill-treatment. The Subcommittee communicates its observations and recommendations to States through confidential reports, which it encourages countries to make public.

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