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Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)

The Convention Against Torture (and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) is an international law that says how the government and people who act for it are allowed to treat prisoners. This doesn’t only mean people in jail – it includes people who are detained in any place they aren’t allowed to leave.

Places where people are forced to stay are called places of detention, or sometimes closed environments. That includes places like:

  • jail or prison, including youth detention
  • immigration detention
  • locked psychiatric wards and hospitals
  • secure housing for people with disability
  • school ‘time out’ rooms
  • aged care facilities, dementia units and nursing homes
  • child welfare institutions, out of home care and boarding schools

Signing the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture, known as OPCAT, means a country agrees to create an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), which is a department or organisation that can inspect all places of detention and closed environments. The NPM is supposed to make sure everyone is following the rules.

Find out more about our advocacy around OPCAT and the NPM.