National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) are the national component of the preventive system established by the OPCAT. They are mandated to conduct regular monitoring visits to all types of places where persons are deprived of liberty. Through these visits, NPMs are in a good position to identify early warning signs, and therefore prevent abuse.

They can be a new, specialised body or an existing institution.  Most importantly, these torture prevention bodies need to be independent, free from government influence and provided with sufficient resources to carry out their work effectively. They must also have the power to access all places of detention, without restriction, to access all information and to be able to talk with detained persons in private.

These bodies complement the work of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and can have direct contact with the Subcommittee. Their permanent presence in a country enables them to conduct regular monitoring, and build long-term dialogue with relevant authorities. As domestic bodies, they are best placed to propose concrete preventive measures, which are adapted to the situation and challenges in the country.

National Preventive Mechanism - illustration from OPCAT - the torture prevention treaty