The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture has issued advice for state parties and national preventative mechanisms on how to adhere to their OPCAT commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The subcommittee reminded state parties that the prohibition of torture and other cruel, humane or degrading treatment or punishment cannot be derogated from, even under these exceptional circumstances, and that places of quarantine fall within the mandate of OPCAT.
While visits by national preventive mechanisms will naturally be affected by pandemic-related restrictions, the subcommittee advised that they should still continue, as the risk to those in places of detention may be heightened by the current restrictions. Some ways that monitoring can continue in places of detention are through the use of electronic communication, the establishment of NPM hotlines, increased use of data collection and the contacting of third parties such as family members or lawyers of those in detention.
The subcommittee also provided multiple recommendations for how states should handle detention settings at this time, advising that they should, for example, reduce detained populations as much as possible, ensure that complaints mechanisms remain in place and ensure that medical isolation does not result in solitary confinement but instead be subject to clear safeguards.
Read the full advice here:https://undocs.org/CAT/OP/10