This report considers the practical implications of implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in Victoria. It:
- compares inspection bodies operating in different countries and recommends an appropriate model for Victoria
- sets out the results of a thematic OPCAT-style inspection of Port Phillip Prison, Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct and Secure Welfare Services, looking at practices related to ‘solitary confinement’ involving children and young people.
OPCAT is an international human rights treaty that aims to prevent abuse of people in detention by opening places where people are deprived of liberty – prisons, police cells, psychiatric hospitals and so on – to regular independent inspections by:
- a UN committee of international experts called the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture
- local inspection bodies called National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs).
The Commonwealth Government ratified OPCAT on 21 December 2017 and made a declaration to postpone implementation of its obligation to establish an NPM for three years. On 1 July 2018, the Commonwealth Ombudsman commenced as Australia’s NPM Coordinator and as the NPM body for Commonwealth places of detention.
In Victoria, this means the State Government will need to open places of detention to the UN committee and ‘designate’ or appoint one or more local NPMs to conduct regular inspections, by December 2020.