Skip to main content


OPCAT and Australia

Rights Rights and Freedoms
Razor wire

The past fortnight has shone light on abuses of young people in places of juvenile detention.

People who are deprived of their liberty are particularly vulnerable to violations of their human rights.

The UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is an international agreement which aims to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in detention.

Australia’s ratification of OPCAT will require it to establish a national system of inspections of all places of detention. The monitoring processes in the OPCAT would increase transparency and accountability in places of detention. Increased transparency will assist in identifying breaches of human rights and prevent breaches from occurring in the first place.

The OPCAT was adopted in 2002 and entered into force in 2006. Australia became a signatory to the OPCAT in 2009. A parliamentary committee recommended the OPCAT be ratified in 2012. In signing the OPCAT, the Australian Government has taken a significant step towards establishing greater oversight and inspection of its places of detention.  Australia should now ratify the OPCAT as a matter of urgency.

The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, has been conducting visits to juvenile detention centres across Australia, considering the application of OPCAT within juvenile justice. The Children’s Rights Report on OPCAT and juvenile justice is expected to be released in November 2016.

Further information on the OPCAT is available at:


Via APT Geneva

OPCAT - the torture prevention treaty from APT Geneva on Vimeo.

See Also

Rights Rights and Freedoms

Law, Lawyers and Human Rights

Law Week Breakfast Law Society of Western Australia Perth, 13 May 2019 Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, President, Australian Human Rights Commission Acknowledgments Thanks to Greg McIntyre SC, President of the Law Society of Western Australia, for the wonderful invitation to speak at the...

Speech Icon