Prison bars

Tasmanian OPCAT Bill is a good foundation, but work remains

On 21 December 2017, Australia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), coming into force on 20 January 2018.

OPCAT requires each state to nominate a body or bodies to fulfil the role of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). 

The Tasmanian Government intends to introduce legislation proposing amendments to the Custodial Inspector Act 2016 that will nominate the Custodial Inspector to fulfil the role of the NPM. It has sought feedback on the Custodial Inspector Amendment (OPCAT) Bill 2020.

The Custodial Inspector Amendment (OPCAT) Bill is a good foundation for the Tasmanian government’s approach to establish a National Preventative Measure. As it stands though, there are several gaps in the bill when assessed against the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture.

Amnesty International submits that the bill needs to be strengthened in three core areas: independence, scope and access.

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Joel MacKay is a campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.