Irish Penal Reform Trust

Statement of Principles on Legislation to Ratify the OPCAT

12th November 2018

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty which assists States in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in all places of detention. Ireland signed the OPCAT on 2nd October 2007, but has not yet ratified the treaty.

Legislation intended to ratify the OPCAT is expected to be introduced by Government before the end of 2018

National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) are the national monitoring component of the preventive system established by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). An NPM is a body – or a group of bodies – which monitors the treatment of and conditions for people deprived of their liberty in a particular State.

IPRT has developed a 'Statement of Principles' document outlining the minimum legislative requirements for any legislation intended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, across three areas:

  1. Independence of National Preventative Mechanism
  2. Functions of National Preventative Mechanism
  3. Members/staff of National Preventative Mechanism

This statement of principles is intended to inform legal professionals, legislators, members of the judiciary, advocacy groups, and those who are supporting individuals deprived of their liberty, to engage with the legislation when it is introduced.

This documents closely reflects the most recently published Guidance from the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner. In the preparation of this document IPRT also consulted several lawyers with expertise in this area as well as the Chair of the UN Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture. 

Read the 'Statement of Principles on Legislation to Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)' in full here.

See more: 

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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