Regularity of OPCAT visits by NPMs in Europe

Nicholas Hardwick, Rachel Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

28 Downloads (Pure)


The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is premised on the concept of prevention: that regular examination by independent national and international bodies of those detained and the institutions detaining them will prevent torture, ill-treatment, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment occurring. This paper examines how National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) in Europe have interpreted the concept of 'regular' visits. By July 2018, 38 NPMs had been designated in Europe, the largest number in any region. Drawing upon desk-based research and a survey among these NPMs, this paper illustrates that their practice varies considerably, with diverging views on how ‘regular’ is interpreted; a number of factors coming into play when one is trying to identify what is regular; and the extent to which, even if one could define regularity, any NPM is fulfilling this requirement. It identifies the need for more research, suggests NPMs may wish to examine their own practice and concludes with a call to the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) to provide and expand upon guidance as to the sorts of factors that NPMs may consider when determining when to visit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-90
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Journal of Human Rights
Issue number1
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2019


  • torture, NPM, prevention, regular, visits, detention

Cite this