OPCAT – preventative, proactive and non-punitive.

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OPCAT – preventative, proactive and non-punitive.
Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties National Interest Analysis
Dodd, Peter.
Publication Date:
30 Mar 2012
Publication Type:

The submission supports Australia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and addresses the content of the National Interest Analysis that also supports ratification. The recommendations of the National Interest Analysis are currently being considered by the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). 

The submission contends that the ratification of OPCAT is clearly in Australia’s national interest. Not only should Australia ratify OPCAT immediately as a sign of Australia’s commitment to human rights, it should also do so because of the positive effects that ratification will have on the administration of justice in Australia. 

Citing overseas examples, the submission highlights the positive role that OPCAT could play in Australia, if ratified, because of OPCAT’s focus on prevention, its potential role on promoting innovation, collaboration and best practice in places of detention and that National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) under OPCAT would take a non-punitive, institution building approach.

PIAC also submits that OPCAT is cost effective in that, for the relatively small outlay required to properly fund its implementation OPCAT through the NPMs, in the medium- to long-term there will be costs savings by improving conditions for those held in detention. 

PIAC is concerned about the prospect of a further three-year delay in the setting up of the NPMs as recommended in the National Interest Analysis. The submission sets out the reasons for these concerns.

An appendix to the submission aims to estimate some of the financial costs and benefits associated with implementing OPCAT.

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