Acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatments often occur during the first hours of detention in police stations. Necessary safeguards - such as the need for detailed records - have therefore to be put in place.),By establishing a system of regular visits to places of detention, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) ensures such improvements.
For the first time under an international treaty, States have to open all their places of detention - police stations, prisons, juvenile justice establishments, pre-trial detention centres, immigration centres, mental health and social care institutions - to the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), a body of independent experts. Unannounced visits, which do not require States’ acquiescence, can be carried out.
Since 2007, the SPT, which is based in Geneva, has carried out 19 visits to States, issuing specific recommendations to improve protection against torture and other ill-treatments.