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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Children with Disabilities 2013

Entitled Children with Disabilities, the report examines the discrimination and deprivations that these children and their families confront. It describes the progress that is being made, albeit unevenly, in ensuring that children with disabilities have the fair access to services and opportunities that is their right. And it urges governments, their international partners, civil society, and employers to take concrete steps to advance the cause of inclusion – as a matter of equity and for the benefit of all.

The ultimate proof of all global and national efforts will be local, the test being whether every child with a disability is able to enjoy her or his rights, including access to services, support, and opportunities in their communities that other children are afforded.

Exclusion is often the consequence of invisibility. Few countries have reliable information on how many of their citizens are children with disabilities, what disabilities they have or how these disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few are capable of knowing what types and amounts of support these children and their families need – much less how best to respond. The report explores challenges, progress and opportunities in the area of data collection and analysis.

It also contains a series of personal essays by young people with disabilities and some of the people who work with children and adolescents with disabilities – among them, parents, caregivers and advocates.

The report contains important up-to-date data for Albania, 2013.

(Latest update, 31 May, 2013)

ARCT Data on Political Persecution in Albania

Based on its transitional justice mechanisms, and the clear-cut focus on the EU integration, Albania has created its legal framework to ensure the respect for human rights. However, existing legislation and policies are implemented unevenly due to shortcomings in the rule of law and law enforcement, as well as due to lack of transparent process of priority-setting agendas of central and local government structures.Since early ‘90s in Albania, the transition has produced variety of methods and instruments for dealing with the memory of communist crimes: such as the status of innocence for the victims (the former political persecuted), measures aiming at rehabilitation of victims, reparation and restitution of property, but unsuccessfully resolving the struggle of social justice and integration for the category of former political persecuted (FPPs) and respective families/ relatives, affecting directly the applicability of the Rule of Law standards in Albania.Despite the implementation of the so-called “policy” of reparations for victims but virtually nothing has been done in the arena of criminal justice, institutionalizing the miss-functioning of domestic and international laws on condemnation of communist crimes in the country. The granted amnesty (1991) was instrumented by the Albanian parliament in the way that it created a vicious circle for those affected by such law, creating legal and administrative impossibilities for the FPPs to approach the civil and/or criminal trials. Additionally, justice system has perfectly functioned for perpetrators: through trials against some main figures from the repressive regime, the trials were successfully used as a mean for amnesty and property rights/restitution and possession of sequestered belonging, housing rights, pensions, etc.Likewise, removal of symbols of the authoritarian regime was not totally accomplished up-to-date.Today, Albania does not have a consolidated national legislation which explicitly refers to the denial of crimes by totalitarian communist regime[3]. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is increasingly becoming a check-and-balance judiciary instrument for the Albania’s performance in protecting human rights; the legal instruments, measures and practice have shown a dysfunctional implementation of the rule of law, and clear violations of fundamental rights endorsed in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (with reference to Article 6, in conjunction with Article 46 of ECHR, Article 2 (right to life) and 3 (torture).

According to ARCT data base, an estimate number of those affected by these unsolved problems goes to more than 40.000 lives:

  • The categories of the FPPs who were executed with or without a trial, for political reasons (5,577 men and 450 women); those who died in prison - 952, those dead in deportations - 7,022 persons of all age groups; those killed on the border: more than 100 persons only in 1990.
  • The categories of the former political persecuted (FPP) who suffer imprisonment (17,900 persons were politically sentenced; 7,367 of them were women);
  • The categories of the FPPs whose families were sent to exile and forced labor camps (deported for political reasons - 30,383 in 23 prisons and 48 concentration camps throughout the country.On the other hand, as shown in ARCT studies and surveys, the occurrence of torture in Albania is rooted also to the practices and mentalities of the past as well as to a vague position the state is keeping towards political persecution and political persecuted during dictatorship. Rehabilitation of torture survivors remains a topic outside the attention of state institutions and public health services, although a parliamentary resolution approved in 2006 as a result of long pressure from ARCT is in place. As such, the social environment is largely involved on simple daily political fights and in-effective democratic-like rhetoric without a sound action towards building a democratic culture. One of the missing components is a poor level of non-politicized discourse on human rights issues in media, school texts and curricula, reflecting somehow the level of information and knowledge in the general public.
(Latest update, February 2016)