Despite Canberra Liberals opposition, UN human rights protections will be realised in the ACT

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

The ACT is now ready for the United Nations Subcommittee to inspect its places of detention following the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in December.

The Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) Bill 2017 sets out the powers of the UN Subcommittee should it elect to visit a place of detention in the ACT.

Procedural considerations around access, privacy, and protections against reprisal for anyone providing information to the UN Subcommittee are also outlined in the Bill.

In addition to allowing visits from the UN Subcommittee, the OPCAT requires State Parties to establish a system of regular visits by independent monitoring bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty.

Comments attributable to Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury:

“I am gobsmacked that the Canberra Liberals have chosen to vote against these very important provisions. They are completely out of step with their Federal Coalition counterparts, with the United Nations, most all other states and territories around Australia, and with 86 other countries.

“It begs the question as to whether the Canberra Liberals are more invested in armchair commentary, rather than the facts, when it comes to the realities of our Corrections system.

“The ACT’s support for OPCAT ratification speaks to our proud history of legislating to protect the human rights of people in the ACT, including our most vulnerable.

“The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is recognised in international law as an absolute right that cannot be limited, even in times of emergency or disaster.

“The ACT Government views OPCAT ratification as an important and significant mechanism to prevent ill-treatment in our places of detention.”