The OPCAT Implementation Bill 2021 has today passed the House of Assembly, which will supplement and expand the existing mechanisms for inspections and monitoring of standards in our places of detention.
Tasmania is one of the first jurisdictions to bring on this legislation before OPCAT compliance is required by January 2022.
“This is an important milestone and part of our commitment to keep our community safe while ensuring that those in detention are treated humanely, appropriately, and in accordance with international law.” Said Attorney-General, Elise Archer MP.
The legislation follows Australia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which requires each state to nominate a body or bodies to fulfil the role of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).
“It will also enable visits of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, who will travel to Australia from time to time to assess our compliance with the norms of the United Nations concerning the treatment of people deprived of their liberty.”
The Bill also allows for:
- the regular monitoring of places of detention, including prisons, youth detention, police stations, closed psychiatric facilities, and transport vehicles;
- the publication of guidelines and standards;
- annual reporting to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and information sharing with the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture;
- the disclosure or communication of relevant information to the NPM by a person or body;
- protection against reprisal for persons who provide information to the NPM; and
- the referral of matters by the NPM to another person or a body existing under law for investigation where appropriate (such as the Health Complaints Commissioner).
“I look forward to working with the NPM in this new role that independently provides oversight and an important responsibility.”