Date: 
Friday 7 July 2017

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow is seeking submissions on Australia’s implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

“The Federal Government has outlined some of the key features of how it intends OPCAT to operate in Australia but there are many details still to be determined.

“The Government has explicitly provided for a period of consultation with key stakeholders and has asked me to consult with interested parties on how OPCAT should be implemented,” Commissioner Santow said.

“I encourage input from those in the civil society sector with particular experience and expertise regarding conditions of detention.

“Interested parties would include medical professionals, lawyers, social workers, academics, human rights bodies, religious and faith based groups, corrective services and organisations representing people with lived experience of detention.”

The Federal Government intends to ratify OPCAT by December 2017. Parties wishing to respond to the OPCAT consultation paper should do so by 21 July 2017 to humanrights.commissioner@humanrights.gov.au.

“We anticipate two phases in this work,” Commissioner Santow said.

“The Commission will first analyse the key issues that the Federal Government needs to resolve before it ratifies OPCAT. I intend to communicate informally with the Federal Government any key recommendations that emerge from our consultation by September 2017.

“The second phase of this project will involve a detailed analysis of the issues that all Australian governments will need to resolve in the implementation period in the years following ratification.

“The Commission will prepare and publish a report on these issues in 2018. We are open to undertaking a second round of community and stakeholder consultation in this second phase of this work.”

OPCAT is an international agreement aimed at preventing torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

OPCAT signatories agree to establish an independent National Preventive Mechanism to conduct inspections of all places of detention and closed environments. Signatories also agree to international inspections of places of detention by the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture.

More on OPCAT consultations and submissions.