OPCAT and Monitoring standards

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)

Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is absolutely prohibited under international and New Zealand law. The Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) requires State Parties to take effective measures to prevent torture and ill treatment.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is designed to assist States to meet these obligations. Unlike other human rights treaty processes that deal with violations of rights after the fact, the OPCAT is primarily concerned with preventing violations. It is based on the premise, supported by practical experience, that regular visits to places of detention are an effective means of preventing ill treatment and improving conditions of detention. This preventive approach aims to ensure that sufficient safeguards against ill treatment are in place and that any problems or risks are identified and addressed.

OPCAT establishes a dual system of preventive monitoring, undertaken by international and national monitoring bodies. A new international body, the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, will periodically visit each State Party to inspect places of detention and make recommendations to the State. At the national level, independent monitoring bodies called National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) are empowered under OPCAT to regularly visit places of detention, and make recommendations aimed at strengthening protections, improving treatment and conditions, and preventing torture or ill treatment.

Rehabilitation as a Right to Torture Victims

Rehabilitation as a right

 The right to rehabilitation is embodied in Article 14 of the Convention against Torture (“CAT”). Reparation, compensation and redress are also part of Article 14:

 Article 14 stipulates:

1. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and

has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependents shall be entitled to compensation.

2. Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the victim or other person to compensation which may exist under national law.

It is clear from the wording of Article 14(1) that rehabilitation is a crucial aspect of a victim’s remedy for torture.

 Support for and confirmation of this right are found in the UN’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law (the “UN Basic Principles”) 1. Adopted by General Assembly, Resolution 60/147,on 16 December 2005.

This document indicates that rehabilitation is a distinct component of the wider right to reparation for survivors of abuses).


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26 June 2013 Right to Rehabilitation

26 June 2013 - Right to Rehabilitation

The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, on 26 June, gives us the opportunity to stand united and remind the world that torture is a cruel violation of human rights.

Right to Rehabilitation is the theme for the 26 June 2013 campaign. At the end of 2012, the UN Committee Against Torture published a General Comment on Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture, which states:
  Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.
 The General Comment clarified points of Article 14, namely that rehabilitation should be holistic, that States have a financial obligation regardless of resources available, that it must be accessible at the soonest possible point after torture, and that torture victims have a right to choose their provider, be it nongovernmental organisations or the State providing services.

However, while international law grants all torture victims a right to rehabilitation, this is unfortunately not always a reality. As such, we wanted to use 26 June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, to reiterate that victims of torture have this right – a Right to Rehabilitation – and that supporting victims of torture can mean providing as full rehabilitation as possible, through a holistic approach that includes medical, psychological, and social needs, and access to justice and redress.

Trafficking in Persons

At its essence, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is aboutpeople being bought and sold as chattel.Trafficking, or modern slavery, constitutes a violation of human rights in which victims are deprived of their fundamental rights and freedoms. The Palermo Protocol defines human trafficking as:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer,harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose ofexploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

The Protocol also clarifies that the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of an individual under the age of 18 for the purpose of exploitation is considered trafficking in persons, even ifnone of the means listed above (force, coercion, abduction, etc.) are involved. Therefore, according to the Protocol, minors in prostitution are considered trafficking victims; by definition they cannot have consented to beprostitutes.Although the Protocol focuses on transnational crime, it requires

signatory countries to criminalize intentional TIP through national legislation, even in cases where there is no trans-border movement.

Trafficking can occur inside a country or even within a single town. Movement,whether

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