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Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Type of treaty Human rights convention
Drafted 18 December 2002[1]
Signed
Location
18 December 2002
New York
Effective
Condition
22 June 2006[1]
20 ratifications[2]
Signatories 62[1]
Parties 40[1]
Depositary UN Secretary-General[3]
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish[4]

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is an important addition to the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture. It establishes an international inspection system for places of detention modelled on the system which has existed in Europe since 1987 (the Committee for the Prevention of Torture).

The OPCAT was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 18 December 2002,[1] and it entered into force on 22 June 2006.[1] As of December 2008, 40 states are party to the protocol, and another 29 countries have signed but not ratified it.[1]

Contents

History

The idea for this scheme of torture prevention goes back to the Swiss Committee for the Prevention of Torture (today Association for the Prevention of Torture, APT), founded in 1977 by Jean-Jacques Gautier in Geneva. It envisaged the establishment of a world-wide system of inspection of places of detention, which later took the form of an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984). For a long time, however, the necessary support for such an optional protocol was not forthcoming. As a consequence, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) had at its disposal only relatively weak instruments: it could analyse and discuss the self-reports of the respective governments and create the institution of a Special Rapporteur on Torture. But neither CAT nor its Special Rapporteur had the power to visit countries, let alone inspect prisons, without the respective government's permission. In 1987, the Council of Europe realized the original idea on a regional level with its European Convention for the Prevention of Torture. On this basis, the European Committtee for the Prevention of Torture has demonstrated that regular visits, reports and recommendations to the governments as well as the publication of these reports and the governments' reactions the viability of this model. This in turn led to a breakthrough within the United Nations: OPCAT was created and opened for signatures on 18 December 2002 by the UN General Assembly.

After ratification by twenty states, the Optional Protocol came into force on 22 June 2006.[1]

Ratification status

Parties to the OPCAT, as of September 2009.      Ratified or acceded      Signed but not ratified      Non-parties

As of October 2009, 50 states have ratified the protocol: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.[1]

A further 23 countries have signed but not ratified the protocol: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Togo and Turkey.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment". United Nations Treaty Collection. http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en. Retrieved 2009-10-04.  
  2. ^ OPCAT, Article 28. Retrieved on 30 December 2008.
  3. ^ OPCAT, Article 27. Retrieved on 30 December 2008.
  4. ^ OPCAT, Article 37. Retrieved on 30 December 2008.

External links

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