OPCAT in Australia Consultation - Implementation consultations with Civil Society
On 9 February 2017, the Australian Government announced it would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) by December 2017, working closely with states and territories. On 15 December 2017, the Australian Government announced it had ratified the treaty. The Australian Government now has a three-year period during which it must implement the treaty.
In his February 2017 announcement, the then Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon George Brandis QC, asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to consult with civil society to help facilitate the effective implementation of OPCAT in Australia.
While the Government has outlined some of the key features of how it intends OPCAT to operate in Australia, there remain many details still to be determined.
Accordingly, the Commission is conducting a consultation process with civil society to ascertain their views on the design and implementation of OPCAT.
In 2017, in the first phase of consultation, the Commission invited written responses to the guideline questions in the consultation paper, available here. The Commission also hosted a series of consultation roundtables in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin. The submissions made to the first consultation papaer are available here.
At the conclusion of the first round of consultation, the Commission provided a summary of findings and made a number of proposals regarding how OPCAT could be made part of Australia's law and practice.
In June 2018, the Commission published a second and final consultation paper, seeking views on the proposals made in the interim report and asking more detailed questions about how OPCAT should be implemented in Australia.
A copy of the consultation paper can be found here, and the the Commission’s Submission Policy can be found here.
A final report is due to be published by mid-2019.
Civil society partnerships have been vital in the prevention of torture, including OPCAT Ratification and implementation.
Photo taken with permission from: Association for the Prevention of Torture, Putting Prevention into Practice – OPCAT 10th anniversary booklet (2016) 32, available here (viewed 15 May 2017).