Progress on detention conditions: OPCAT ratified

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February 9, 2017

PIAC has welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

 PIAC has called for the ratification of OPCAT over many years, most recently in a submission that focused on the opportunity provided by OPCAT to monitor the detention of young people in police custody via a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM).

Today, the Attorney-General, George Brandis, announced the Government’s intention to ratify OPCAT by December 2017.

‘This is an important decision that should lead to greater oversight and accountability in the conditions in juvenile justice centres, prisons and immigration detention centres,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

‘The treatment of children in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre has highlighted the need for strong oversight to ensure that people in detention are treated humanely and their human rights are protected.

 ‘More than twenty years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the ratification of OPCAT marks a significant step in independently monitoring systemic issues in places of detention. At present, systemic issues are often identified by a coronial inquest many years after the event.

‘In developing an independent monitoring mechanism, we must make sure it is broad enough to encompass all relevant types of detention, including police cells.

‘Ratification is a welcome step that PIAC has sought for many years. We congratulate the Australian Government and look forward to seeing swift progress towards implementation,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.