Proposed legislation in the Northern Territory which will enable independent experts to visit places of detention will play an important role in preventing ill-treatment, says the HRLC. In a submission to the NT Government, the HRLC has welcomed the draft legislation but recommended a number of changes to ensure full compliance with Australia’s international obligations.
"The independent monitoring and oversight of places of detention is essential to promote humane treatment in all places of detention," says the HRLC's Ben Schokman. "This is not only in the interests of all people deprived of their liberty but also in the interests of the broader community."
The Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) (National Uniform Legislation) Bill 2013 seeks to implement part of the obligations contained in the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was signed by Australia on 19 May 2009. The object of the Bill is to facilitate visits by the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture to all places of detention in the Northern Territory.
The HRLC’s submission focuses on ensuring unfettered access to all places of detention and access to documents and information, as well ensuring that the language of the Bill is clear and drafted in a way that will achieve the purpose of the Optional Protocol.
A copy of the HRLC's submission is available here.
Further information on the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is available here.