One of the moments at which NPMs will likely interact with the SPT is in relation to SPT country visits. This interaction is likely to fall into three main categories.
In relation to preparation of visits, NPMs can send information to the SPT during the visit planning phase. This will usually be once the SPT makes its visiting programme public (usually in June and November of the year before the programme starts). The SPT often contacts the relevant NPMs to provide background information to better inform their visit programme.
This is in order to help the SPT understand the particular risks, places and themes relating to detention in the country and, on this basis, to establish its priorities for the visit. This is an important opportunity for the NPM to ensure that its own priorities are reflected in the SPT visit and subsequent report and recommendations.
In addition to specific places, risks, and themes, NPMs may also wish to suggest key national actors that it thinks the SPT should consider meeting during the visit. The NPM may also provide information to the SPT in relation to its own functioning, powers and budget, particularly in cases where the additional attention and pressure of an SPT visit may help their own advocacy for improvements.
During visits, NPMs will also usually meet with the SPT at the start of the visit and as it progresses in time, in order to discuss precise plans and priorities. Depending on the situation, the NPM and the SPT may conduct one or several visits together to places of deprivation of liberty. This can be an opportunity to focus on issues in detention, but also to exchange on visit methodology and NPM practices. At the end of the SPT country visit, the NPM will also often participate in the final discussion with the authorities, in addition to a meeting between the SPT and the NPM alone.
Following an SPT visit, the NPM may wish to conduct follow-up, both immediately and over the longer term.
In terms of immediate follow-up, NPMs can play an important role in prevention of reprisals, including in accordance with the UN Guidelines against Intimidation or Reprisals (“San José Guidelines”). This might include going back to the places that were visited by the SPT and conducting interviews and other monitoring activity with this specific purpose in mind.
Over the longer term, the NPM plays an important role in encouraging the state to make the visit report public, as well as the official state response (if it does not already do so as a matter of policy). If the SPT report is made public, there will then be important opportunities for engagement on follow-up to the recommendations. This might include a tripartite dialogue with the SPT, NPM and the state on how and when it plans to implement them. If both documents are made public (i.e. the SPT in-country visit report and the state party’s response), the NPM plays an important role in monitoring the implementation of SPT recommendations.
When the country concerned has a designated NPM, SPT in-country visit reports also include specific recommendations and observations to the state in relation to the NPM (for example, on resources, independence or legal basis). In addition, the SPT may often provide a second report directly to the NPM with recommendations on NPM functioning. Whether this NPM-specific report is made public is then up to the NPM itself to decide, although this is a good practice. Some NPMs also publish their replies to the SPT report at the same time.
In addition, it is worth noting that, through the Special Fund established by Article 26 of the OPCAT, funds may be made available to support the implementation of SPT recommendations resulting from an in-country visit, in cases where it has been made public. Both NPMs and civil society can apply for funding in this way. NPMs in states that have not received an SPT visit can also apply to the Special Fund for support to their educational programmes.