The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty which assists States in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in places of detention.
Ireland signed OPCAT in October 2007, but almost a decade on it is yet to ratify it.
The Optional Protocol (OPCAT) was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2002, introducing a combined system of national and international monitoring of places of detention with a view to preventing ill-treatment.
Places of detention are not limited to prisons. OPCAT applies to anywhere where people are deprived of their liberty. Examples of places of detention include, but are not limited to:
- Psychiatric units;
- Juvenile detention centres;
- Immigration detention centres;
- Pre-trial detention facilities;
- Garda stations.
Accountability in places of detention is crucial. Monitoring and inspection, along with an effective independent complaints mechanism for detainees, are central to the protection of human rights and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law.
The aim of OPCAT is to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty. IPRT supports this goal and believes that independent monitoring under OPCAT will serve to strengthen a culture of human rights within Irish detention facilities.
For more information on OPCAT, click here.