Australian territory leads the way towards OPCAT ratification

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in Australia to release a draft law that would enable ratification of the UN torture prevention treaty OPCAT. 

The Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture) Bill 2013 would enable the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to visit any place of detention in Australia. A legislative basis for the Subcommittee to visit would fulfil the international requirements of the OPCAT. The domestic requirement under the OPCAT is for States to establish or designate institutions (national preventive mechanisms) to conduct regular monitoring of all places of detention. The Australian government has indicated that on ratification it is likely to delay the obligation to establish a domestic monitoring mechanism by three years, as is permitted in the treaty.

The OPCAT Bill contains innovative provisions such as on protection against reprisals, which has been saluted by international expert NGOs. The APT hopes that other Australian States and Territories will follow the example of Canberra and pass similar legislation so that the Australian government can formally ratify the treaty that it signed in 2009. For more information, see our OPCAT Database.