The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture: Celebrating 5 years of a world wide movement to prevent torture

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

22 June 2011. Today marks the 5th anniversary of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. 59 states have already ratified this groundbreaking international human rights treaty and agreed to establish a system of regular, unannounced visits to prisons and other places of detention.

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture is based on the insight that torture and other ill-treatment happen within closed doors and that the risk of torture exists anywhere in the world where people are deprived of their liberty without any outside scrutiny. The Optional Protocol aims at reducing this risk. It is unique in putting in place a system to prevent torture from happening, rather than punishing the perpetrators once the crime has been committed.

The Optional Protocol entered into force on the 22 June 2006. Since then State Parties have set up their own independent monitoring mechanisms, increasing openness and transparency in places of detention and acting as a safeguard against torture. A complementary system of preventive visits at the international level is undertaken by the UN Subcommittee on Torture Prevention.

As an initiator and driving force behind the Optional Protocol, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) now calls on all States to sign, ratify and make this treaty a global reality – as part of their existing obligation to prevent torture.

The APT was founded in Geneva in 1977 by the Swiss banker Jean-Jacques Gautier, who committed his life to the cause of torture prevention. The APT is working world wide to promote international and legal frameworks for the prevention of torture and to support States and civil society to effectively monitor places of detention.

Later this year, the APT is hosting a Global Forum in Geneva: Upholding Dignity – Preventing Torture, From Pledges to Action (10-11 November). The Forum will gather state representatives, international organisations, civil society and other actors to take stock on progress and gaps in the system to prevent torture. This event will be an important milestone in the implementation of the Optional Protocol and will come up with concrete proposals on how to reinvigorate the worldwide movement on torture prevention.

For further information please contact:
Audrey Olivier, OPCAT Programme Officer, APT


The APT Database on the Optional Protocol: