Consultation — Northern Territory Legislation for National Preventive Mechanism — Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture
The Commonwealth of Australia is a party to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention) and the Commonwealth of Australia has also agreed to the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). OPCAT provides a means of checking compliance with the Convention.
Under OPCAT, the Commonwealth is obliged to set up one or several visiting (inspectorial) bodies for the prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. OPCAT applies to “places of detention”. The application is very broad and extends far beyond places that are ordinarily understood as being places of detention. It includes adult correction centres, youth places of detention, police and court cells and transport and various health facilities (under legislation such as the Mental Health and Related Services Act 1998, Disability Services Act 1993, Notifiable Diseases Act 1981 and the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011.
For the purposes of the Convention and OPCAT the current Northern Territory legislation (Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) 2018 (the Act) deals with inspections of places of detention by a sub-committee of the United Nations.
The attached Bill deals with independent inspections by local bodies of Northern Territory places of detention.
For some places of detention (eg adult correctional centres) the Bill provides for a new independent inspection service whereas for others (mental health, disability and youth places of detention) it augments current legislative provisions and practices.
The overall objective is to provide for independent inspections, appropriate protections for those involved in the inspections and appropriate transparency regarding reporting of outcomes and of implementation of recommendations arising from inspections.
Last updated: 29 December 2021
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