Govt urged to adopt anti-torture protocol

PIAC will lobby Commonwealth,
state and territory governments this year as part of a major campaign to have
the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) ratified and
implemented by all Australian governments.

Australia signed the
Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 1985 and ratified it in 1989. PIAC is now
looking forward to the ratification of OPCAT in 2012, following the Federal
Labor Government announcement that Australia would sign and ratify the optional
protocol in 2009.

OPCAT establishes an
international monitoring body, the International Subcommittee on Prevention
(ISP), which inspects places of detention.

If OPCAT is ratified,
Australia would be required to ‘set up, designate or maintain at the domestic
level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. Western Australia is the
only Australian state or territory that currently has an independent prisons
inspectorate that would most likely comply with OPCAT requirements.

OPCAT covers all places of
detention, including prisons, locked psychiatric facilities, juvenile detention
centres and immigration detention centres.

It provides a practical way,
through independent inspectorates, of providing greater accountability and
transparency in Australian places of detention.

In December 2011, PIAC and 28
other organisations including Amnesty International Australia and Civil Liberties Australia co-signed a letter to the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon (pictured), urging the ratification of OPCAT.

If you or your organisation
can assist with PIAC’s campaign to ensure that OPCAT is ratified as soon as
possible, please contact Peter Dodd at PIAC on (02) 88986523 or at
[email protected].

Photo: Attorney-General for Australia, the Hon Nicola Roxon.

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