OPCAT

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 the 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. The 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.

Round-up: Securing Accountability 30th November 2015

On Friday 27th November 2015, IPRT hosted a conference entitled 'Securing Accountability - Building effective prison monitoring, inspection, and complaints systems'. Read more

ADVISORY: Effective external oversight of prison system is crucial 28th November 2015

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Ireland’s leading penal reform organisation, held a major conference on the need for rigorous and effective external oversight of the Irish prison system on Fri 27 Nov 2015. Read more

EUROPEAN TORTURE COMMITTEE: CONCERNS ON MENTAL HEALTH, VIOLENCE AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN IRISH PRISONS 17th November 2015

The sixth report on places of detention in Ireland from the CPT, published today (Tuesday 17th November 2015) presents another indictment of a prison system that is struggling to meet its duty of care in terms of healthcare, mental health care, and ensuring prisoner safety. Read more

Failures in accountability structures in Irish prisons “extremely disturbing” – IPRT 9th October 2014

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is gravely concerned that the Inspector of Prisons is unable to rely on the veracity of official prison records when investigating a death within prison walls. Read more

Did you know that Ireland hasn't met its commitment to ratify OPCAT? 26th June 2014

Today, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, IPRT is highlighting that the Government still hasn't met its commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). Read more

IPRT welcomes new laws strengthening internal Prisoner Complaints system, but need for independent complaints mechanism remains 22nd January 2013

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) strongly welcomes amendments to the Prison Rules 2007, and the recruitment of 22 external investigators, which together bring a level of independence to prisoner complaints systems in Ireland for the first time. However, this must be matched by similar reform of existing monitoring structures,… Read more

IPRT Position Paper 7: Complaints, Monitoring and Inspection in Prisons 5th November 2009 PDF documents

A Position Paper setting out the main issues relating to the monitoring and inspection of places of detention, and the need for independent external mechanisms for review of prisoners' complaints. Read more

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