Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Human rights documents created both by the United Nations (UN) and regional organisations, impose obligations on the states, which are party to these documents, to establish institution at national level or appoint existing institution for the purpose of promoting and monitoring the implementation of the these instruments. One of these human rights instruments is OPCAT.
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights convention designated to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty.
The OPCAT entered into force in June 2006.
At the center of the OPCAT is the idea that a system of regular and independent visits to places of detention can serve as an important safeguard against abuse and prevent torture and ill-treatment in places that, by their very nature, are out of the public eye.
For the text of the OPCAT, please click the link below:
The approval process of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was completed on 27/09/2011 and it entered into force for Turkey on 27/10/2011.
The objective of the Optional Protocol is to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by the independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (HREI) is assigned with the Law No. 6701 “to fight against torture and ill-treatment effectively and to fulfill the function of national preventive mechanism in this regard”. Pursuant to the Article 9 of the Law, among the duties of the HREI “to act as a national preventive mechanism (NPM) within the framework of the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” is listed. In article 2 of the Law, which regulates the definitions, it is stated that NPM refers to “the system established to make regular visits to places where persons are deprived of their liberty within the framework of the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”. Thus, HREI’s NPM mandate is clearly defined by law as both the OPCAT set forth and Subcommittee called for.
According to Law No. 6701, it is regulated that HREI can pay a visit to “the places where persons deprived of their liberty or taken under protection”. With the aforementioned regulation, the Law No. 6701 doesn’t mention a specific list of “detention centers”, it just state that NPM delegation can visit not only “places where people are deprived of their liberty” but also “places where people are under protection”; in this way the law makes it possible for the NPM to organize visits to the institutions where people are held, in as wide range as possible.
According to HREI Law No. 6701, the powers of the NPM can be listed as follows:
- to request necessary information and documents from all public institutions and organizations and other real and legal persons,
- to examine and obtain copies of the mentioned information and documents,
- to receive written and verbal information from relevant persons,
- to pay visits to places where those deprived of liberty and those under protection are housed
- to carry out examinations in such places and draw up necessary reports
- to interview people alleged to have been ill-treated
Monitoring and Visiting Activities of the National Preventive Mechanism
The main objective of the OPCAT is “to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies/organizations to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Institutions established under the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment for conducting regular monitoring visits to places of detention, are national preventive mechanisms. The states parties, that signed the OPCAT, are obliged to establish national preventive mechanisms.
Turkey signed the OPCAT in 2005 and completed the approval process through the Law No 6167 on Approval of the OPCAT dated 23 February 2011 and decision of the Council of Ministers No. 1962 taken in 2011. The former Human Rights Institution of Turkey was designated as the National Preventive Mechanism through a Cabinet decision dated 9/12/2013 and No. 2013/5711. With the Law No. 6701 on Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey enacted in 2016, Law No. 6332 on the Human Rights Institution of Turkey was repealed and it has been ruled that the references, were made to abolished Human Rights Institution of Turkey in other legislation, will be deemed to have been made to the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey. In conjunction with adaptation of the Law No. 6701 on Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey the NPM mandate was directly given to HREI by law.
What are the Monitoring Visits?
Monitoring visit is a visit to prevent torture and ill-treatment.
Why do we conduct the Monitoring Visits?
With monitoring visits, it is tried to ensure that people, who are deprived of their liberty or taken under protection are treated in compatible with human dignity.
Where are Monitoring Visits conducted?
HREI conducts monitoring visits to all detention centers, where people are deprived of their liberty and taken under protection, in Turkey.
How are Monitoring Visits conducted?
HRIE visiting delegation including members of various occupational groups, conducts monitoring visits to places, where people are deprived of their liberty and taken under protection, in line with visit calendar scheduled determined every year; then visiting reports are prepared in accordance with findings, observations and evaluations obtained during these visits and shared with relevant institutions and public.
When are Monitoring Visits conducted?
Monitoring visits are conducted throughout the year. İt is usually taken place without prior notice to the places, which are planned to be visited.
Who conducts Monitoring Visits?
Monitoring visits are conducted under the coordination of the NPM department. All personnel of the ınstitution and ıf necessary doctors and psychologists assigned from the relevant institutions participate these visits.
The functionality of this system is only possible with the existence of some minimum qualifications, one and the most important of these qualifications is independence
Independence is one of the basic building element of the Paris Principles. All the provisions, which are regulated under the section of the Paris Principles titled “Guarantees of formation, independence and pluralism”, aims to ensure the independence of NHRI with its formation, representation, infrastructure and powers.
Within this framework, HREI has the “administrative and financial autonomy, a private budget and a public legal entity” and is associated with the minister determined by the President. In this context and as stated in the law, the HREI has been associated with the Ministry of Justice with the “Presidential Circular No. 2018/1”.
United Nations the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
United Nations the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture (SPT) is an expert body established within the scope of OPCAT.
The SPT consists of 25 independent and impartial experts from all around the world and publishes an annual report regarding its activities.
In this context, to find the information about the SPT’s visits to our country click the link below
The SPT has guided the States Parties to the OPCAT and the National Preventive Mechanisms, to guide them to inform their efforts for implementing the agreement.
For more information and contact information regarding SPT, Please visit the website below:
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Convention was adopted by the Member States of the Council of Europe, meeting at Strasbourg on 26 November 1987 and entered into force on 1 February 1989.
Turkey signed the Convention on 11 January 1988 and ratified it on February 26, 1988.The Convention entered into force on February 1, 1989.
The Convention has been ratified by 47 member states of the Council of Europe so far.
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
The CPT was established within the scope of the Council of Europe’s European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force in 1989.
The establishment of CPT is based on Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
While the CPT is not a committee of inquiry, it is a non-judicial mechanism to protect persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Thus, it completes the judicial task of the European Court of Human Rights.
The CPT conducts visits to places of detention to assess how people deprived of their liberty are treated. Places of detention includes such as prisons, reformatories, custody centres, removal centres for foreign refugees, psychiatric hospitals, social care homes, etc.
According to the Convention, CPT delegations cannot be restricted to access the detention centres and the delegations have the right to walk around without any restriction at detention centre. They can have private interviews with persons deprived of their liberty and freely communicate with anyone in a position to provide information.
The CPT prepares a detailed report and sends it to the relevant state after each visit. The report contains delegation’s findings, recommendations, opinions and information requests. The CPT also requests a detailed response from the relevant state on the issues addressed in the report. The reports and the State’s responses provided are part of the ongoing dialogue with the relevant States.
For CPT standards please click the link below
For more detailed information and training about CPT, please check the content prepared by the Council of Europe:
The reports prepared by the CPT can be accessed from the HUDOC CPT database: