The OPCAT Project

Welcome to the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment) AHRC Research Project.

The role of national human rights commissions has become an increasingly important issue in the international human rights arena. There has been considerable recent attention paid to encourage states to establish such institutions and to ensure their effectiveness. This has included analysis of factors such as their independence, representivity and legitimacy. Whilst the UN adopted the ‘Paris Principles’ to guide in the creation of such institutions, one concern now is how to build upon these generic guidelines for subject specific issues...


Contact Us

The OPCAT Project
School of Law,
Wills Memorial Building,
Queens Road,
Bristol BS8 1RJ

Tel: +44 (0)117 954 5330
Fax: +44 (0)117 954 5124

News:

December 2009:

16-17 December 2009

Dr Elina Steinerte was approached by the OSCE spill-over monitor mission in Skopje (Macedonia) to participate in the delivery of training Workshop 'Human Rights Reporting Training for the Ombudsman Office of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' which took place on 16-17 December 2009 in Mavrovo, Macedonia.

15 December 2009

The OPCAT Research Team is delighted to present the policy paper 'The Optional Protocol to the UN Torture Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities: some common issues' (PDF, 127kB). These two UN instruments are very different international human rights instruments in that they envisage a direct role for national mechanisms in the implementation of an international human rights treaty. This latter element is very unique and it sets apart the mandates of the SPT and the CRPD from those of other UN treaty bodies. The national element of the two treaties clearly holds the potential of making the instruments truly effective and therefore the way these national mechanisms are constituted, their independence and requisite powers become of paramount importance. The present policy paper examines this crucial commonality of the two instruments.

This can also be found in the OPCAT documents section.

14 December 2009

The Human Rights Implementation Centre together with Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Prisons in England and Wales will host a one day event: 'The National Preventive Mechanism for the United Kingdom: what it is and what it can do' on 14th December 2009. This will be the first event to bring together institutions that were designated to fulfil the role of the National Preventive Mechanism in the United Kingdom earlier this year. The agenda and the event summary can be found in the HRIC documents section.

14 December 2009

Dr Elina Steinerte of the Human Rights Implementation Centre participated via video link in the one-day roundtable 'Implementation of OPCAT in the national legislation: some questions on the National Preventive Mechanism' which took place in Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan on 14th December 2009. This roundtable was organised by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Penal Reform International (PRI) with the support of British Embassy in Astana. The agenda (in Russian) and  Dr Steinerte's Powerpoint presentation (in English) are also available in the OPCAT documents section.

November 2009:

25-26 November 2009

Dr Elina Steinerte and Ms Debra Long were invited by the OSCE mission in Baku (Azerbaijan)  take part in the two day workshop on the Implementation of the OPCAT and the Establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism in Azerbaijan which took place on 25-26th November 2009. The event brought together representatives of the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, representatives from ministries and other governmental bodies and civil society as well as representatives of the Estonian, Georgian and Polish NPMs. The presentations of Dr Steinerte and Ms Long can be found here:

These can also be found in the HRIC documents section.

13 November 2009

The HRIC was approached by the Regional office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia with a request to provide comments on the draft Law of the Kyrgyz Republic 'On the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment'. The comments can be found here (PDF, 50kB) . This paper can also be found in the HRIC documents section.

Dr Elina Steinerte traveled to Bishkek to participate in the public hearing on the Draft Law on the National Preventive Mechanism that took place on 30 November 2009 and presented the comments there.

October 2009:

21-22 October 2009

Dr Elina Steinerte was approached by the OSCE spill-over monitor mission in Skopje (Macedonia) to participate and provide exert advice in the two-day Workshop 'Role of the National Preventive Mechanism- preventive monitoring of the prisons/police stations' which took place on 21-22 October 2009 in Skopje, Macedonia.'

1st October 2009

Dr Elina Steinerte of the Human Rights Implementation Centre was invited to speak and chair a workshop at the regional conference 'Prevention of Torture: What does it mean and how well do we do it in South Caucasus?' in Tbilisi, Georgia, 01-02 October 2009. Her presentation, 'Torture Prevention: Deconstructed' can be accessed here (PDF, 401kB)

29 September 2009

Prof Malcolm Evans and Dr Elina Steinerte of the Human Rights Implementation Centre together with Ms Mary Murphy and Ms Saule Mektepbayeva of Penal Reform International hosted a side event during the Human Dimension meeting organized by OSCE-ODIHR on 29 September 2009 in Warsaw, Poland. The presentation, 'National Human Rights Institutions in the OSCE area and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture'  is available here in English (PDF, 340kB) and Rus (PDF, 470kB) sian (PDF, 470kB).  The event was well attended by the representatives of governments, national human rights institutions, national preventive mechanisms, NGOs as well as OSCE field missions.

11 September 2009

Professor Malcolm Evans has been appointed to the United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture. Further information.

25 August 2009

Prof Rachel Murray and Dr Elina Steinerte were asked to review the draft Law of May 2009 on Amendments to the Law on Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro in the light of the obligations arising to Montenegro pursuant to the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Their comments (PDF, 102kB) were submitted to Mr Crnovrsanin, the Ombudsman of Montenegro.

19 August 2009

The OPCAT Research Team at Bristol University is pleased to present a policy paper entitled " The Relationship between the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and other international and regional visiting mechanisms (PDF, 238kB)". The policy paper discusses the ways in which international and regional mechanisms involved in torture monitoring, visiting and prevention, such as the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, the UN Committee Against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture and the International Committee of the Red Cross can interact and engage with each other, taking into account their specific contexts. The policy paper is also available in the documents section.

10 August 2009

The OPCAT Research Team at Bristol University has produced a policy paper entitled " The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. (PDF, 268kB)" The policy paper discusses the relationship between the Principles drafted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2008 and the OPCAT. The paper describes the Principles' background and main features, and how these compare to those found in the OPCAT. It also discusses how the Inter-American Human Rights system can interact with the OPCAT's Subcommission for the Prevention of Torture and the National Preventive Mechanisms envisaged by the Protocol in the area of the prevention of torture. The policy paper can also be found in the documents section.

21 July 2009

Impact of Research by Law School highlighted by AHRC

Research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council into the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) has been used as an important example of economic impact.

In its Report on 'Leading the World: The Economic Impact of UK Arts and Humanities Research', the AHRC identified the Bristol project as one which has had a 'dramatic impact' in producing economic impact.

The AHRC project is directed by Professor Rachel Murray and Malcolm Evans and includes staff members Elina Steinerte, Antenor Hallo de Wolf, and Emma Rowlstone. The OPCAT provides for a system of visits to places of detention to be carried out by independent national and international bodies. It is believed that such visits can be an important element in combating torture and in preventing it from occurring. The research examines how states choose these national institutions, what factors play a role in determining how effectively they operate in visiting places of detention, and what relationship they have with the international committee, the Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture. Further information on the activities of the project is available in these webpages.

13 July 2009

The OPCAT Research Team of Bristol University was approached by the Legal Policy Research Centre in Kazakhstan to produce a Report on the Existing Mechanisms of Monitoring in Kazakhstan and their Compliance with OPCAT standards for National Preventive Mechanisms. The Report was presented by Dr Elina Steinerte during the Roundtable on the 'Perspectives for Development of Public Monitoring of Places of Deprivation of Liberty in Kazakhstan in the Light of the Ratification of the OPCAT' which took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 27th June 2009. The Report in English is available here (PDF, 287kB). The Report has also been translated into Russian and is available from the web site of the Legal Policy Research Centre. The Presentation of Dr Steinerte during the Roundtable is available in English (PDF, 528kB) and Russian (PDF, 591kB).

10 July 2009

The OPCAT Research Team at Bristol University was asked by the Office on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE to give a presentation during a side event of the Human Dimension meeting organized by OSCE-ODIHR on 14 May 2009 in Warsaw, Poland. The presentation (PDF, 473kB) by Prof. R. Murray and Dr. Elina Steinerte provides an overview of some of the preliminary research results of the OPCAT research project carried out by the OPCAT Research Team. The presentation is also available in the documents section.

9 July 2009

The OPCAT Research Ream has submitted its observations (PDF, 91kB) to the civil society in Georgia on the latest draft amendments in the legislation of Georgia related to the National Preventive Mechanism, attempting to bring it in line with the provisions of OPCAT.

At the invitation of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, Dr. Elina Steinerte of the OPCAT Research Team at Bristol University made a presentation (PDF, 68kB) at the conference 'Implementing OPCAT: experiences from South Eastern Europe', held in Podgorica, Montenegro from 22-23 April, 2009. The conference was organised by the regional office of ODIHR-OSCE. The presentation can also be found in the documents section.

1 May 2009

The OPCAT Research Team at Bristol University has prepared two documents for discussion by a number of UN Human Rights bodies. First, the research team has prepared a submission for a joint study (PDF, 151kB) on secret detentions that is being carried out by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Human Rights while countering terrorism. The submission discusses the role of OPCAT with regard to secret detentions. The Research Team has also  submitted an individual UPR submission (PDF, 110kB) to the UN Human Rights Council with regard to Costa Rica, who will be subjected to the UPR review in November 2009. The submission relates to a number of issues on the implementation of Costa Rica of its obligations under the OPCAT and the work of Costa Rica's National Preventive Mechanism. Both documents are also available in the documents section.

15 April 2009

The summary and recommendations from the regional seminar 'OPACT in the OSCE region: What it means and how to make it work?' which was held on 25-26 November 2008, Prague, Czech Republic are now available in Russian (PDF, 327kB). The summary and recommendations are also available in the documents section.

16 March 2009

A number of the presentations made during the regional seminar 'OPACT in the OSCE region: What it means and how to make it work?' which was held on 25-26 November 2008, Prague, Czech Republic are now available in both English and Russian, and can also be found in our documents section.

16 February 2009

A summary and recommendations from the regional seminar 'OPACT in the OSCE region: What it means and how to make it work?' which was held on 25-26 November 2008, Prague, Czech Republic are now available online (PDF, 236kB). The summary and recommendations can also be found in the documents section. A Russian version of the document will be made available soon. 

13 February 2009

A Spanish version (PDF, 199kB) of the Policy Paper on the Relationship between Accreditation by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture is now available. The Policy Paper is also available in the documents section.

12 January 2009

On 25-26 November the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE together with the OCPAT Research Team of Bristol University organized a regional seminar entitled 'OPCAT in the OSCE region: What it means and how to make it work', which will take place in Prague, Czech Republic. The regional seminar was successfully held and attracted over 80 participants from countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Further information about the seminar including agendas, list of participants, press release and the presentations made during the event can be found here. The presentations and other related documents are also available in the documents section.

21 November 2008

The OPCAT Research Team of Bristol University has finalized a Policy Paper (PDF, 192kB) on the Relationship between Accreditation by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture. The Policy Paper is also available in the documents section.

 

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