ACT well prepared for UN Treaty ratification

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

The ACT Government welcomes the Australian Government’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) with the formal lodgment of documents at the UN in New York today.

Minister for Corrections Shane Rattenbury said the Protocol commits Australia to preventive measures against torture and other inhumane treatments in closed environments.

“This includes regular inspections through domestic bodies and occasional visits from international experts on a United Nations subcommittee,” said Minister Rattenbury.

“Often it is the most vulnerable that are unable or unwilling to complain that are at greatest risk.

“Regular monitoring ensures risks are identified and actions taken before incidents cause serious harm.”

 The Minister was pleased to see OPCAT ratified and said the ACT Government had already introduced the Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) Bill 2017 in August 2017.

Following Australia’s ratification of OPCAT by the Federal Government, this legislation will now be progressed through the Assembly. It will establish the necessary legislative arrangements for the subcommittee to inspect places of detention in the ACT.

“I’m very proud that the ACT will be one of the first jurisdictions to put in place necessary legislative arrangements to enable subcommittee visits,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“I am very keen to ensure that people who are deprived of their liberty can be assured they will be treated with respect and humanity, which is why I also introduced legislation that was passed in November 2017 to establish an Inspector of Correctional Services.

“The Inspector is an independent office holder established to regularly visit initially ACT adult correctional facilities, and within two years, youth facilities.”

The Inspector has powers and guarantees to access AMC at any time without notice, speak to all persons, and be provided with all records.

OPCAT and the Inspector are two separate levels of scrutiny that will ensure that our corrections system upholds human rights principles for people who are in our detention system.