In accordance with its mandate under the Optional Protocol to the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the
Optional Protocol” or OPCAT), members of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the SPT”) visited the
Republic of Malta (“Malta”) from 6 to 9 October 2014.
The SPT members who conducted the visit were: Ms. Mari Amos (Head of the
delegation), Mr. Hans-Jörg Bannwart, Dr. June Paguadan Lopez and Ms Aneta
The SPT was assisted by two human rights officers from the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The primary objective of the visit was to provide advisory services and technical
assistance to the national mechanisms for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment of Malta (”the NPMs”), in accordance with article 11
(b), subparagraphs (ii) and (iii), of the Optional Protocol. The visit was intended to help
strengthen the capacity and mandate of the NPMs, as well as to evaluate how to strengthen
the protection of persons deprived of their liberty from torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment in Malta. Another objective was to assess the strategies
currently being followed to address the challenges and difficulties faced by the NPMs,
taking account of the SPT “Guidelines on the national preventive mechanisms
(CAT/OP/12/5) (“the NPM guidelines”).
Meetings were held with Government officials, the Board of Visitors of the Prison
and the Board of Visitors for Detained Persons (whch are designated as the two Maltese
NPMs), the Ombudsman, the Police Board, the Commissioner for Mental Health and Older
Persons, the Commissioner for Children, Chairpersons of relevant Parliamentary Standing
Committees, non-governmental organizations as well as United Nations representatives
Meetings were also held with the members of the NPMs, i.e. with both the Board of
Visitors of the Prison (“the Prison Board”) and the Board of Visitors for Detained Persons
(“The Detention Board”) which permitted the SPT to discuss with them their mandates and
working methods and to explore ways of strengthening and increasing their effectiveness.
In order to see how the NPMs apply their working methodologies in practice, the SPT also
visited, together with the NPMs, places of deprivation of liberty which had been chosen by
the NPM. (Annex II). These visits were led by the NPM, with the members of the SPT
adopting the role of observers.
The SPT wishes to express its gratitude to the authorities of the Government for
their help and assistance relating to the planning and undertaking of the visit.
The SPT also wishes to express its gratitude for the assistance provided by the
Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta prior to
and during the visit.
II. The national preventive mechanism
Malta acceded to the Convention against Torture on 13 September 1990 and ratified
the OPCAT on 24 September 2003. On 8 April, Malta designated the Board of Visitors of
the Prison (“the Prison Board”), established in 1976, as NPM by Legal Notices 265 and 341