Various monitoring mechanisms carry out independent oversight in places of
deprivation of liberty generally and prison establishments in particular. The
National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) established in accordance with the
terms of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT)
are leading institutions to undertake this complex task in the national territories
and jurisdictions of States parties to OPCAT.
In order to assist the NPMs in particular in this monitoring task, the Human
Rights Implementation Centre (Bristol, UK) and the Penal Reform International,
South Caucasus Regional Office (Tbilisi, Georgia) with the financial support of the
ESRC Impact Acceleration Account of the University of Bristol, have developed
the present set of monitoring tools to be used by the NPMs and other monitoring
bodies during prison oversight.
Various monitoring tools have been produced by various organizations already.
The present tools are different in that they do not provide a descriptive account
of the challenges faced by the four groups of prisoners that each of the tool
addresses: LGBTI prisoners, older prisoners, prisoners with disabilities and
foreign national prisoners. Rather, each of the tools begins with a very brief
introduction to the specific challenges faced by the group in question when in
custody. A brief account of international standards is then provided, followed by
sets of sample questions, grouped thematically to correspond to the areas to be
monitored by the NPMs and others during their visits. These questions are
intended to serve as a sample template for the monitors; they include questions
to be posed to the prison authorities, staff, prisoners and others that the
monitors may deem appropriate. These questions also include questions that the
monitors may wish to ask themselves as they tour the prison establishments and
make their observations. These questions presume a sound knowledge of the
requisite background international human rights standards on the part of the
monitor who will ask them. It is hoped that with such a hands-on, practical
approach the present tools will give concrete assistance to monitors, helping
them to include the needs of these four groups of prisoners in their monitoring
visits and then, in their on-going dialogue with the authorities.