Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other 9 December 2010
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Twel fth session
Geneva, 15–19 November 2010
Guidelines on national preventive mechanisms
II.Basic issues regarding the establishment of an NPM16-234
A.The identification or creation of the NPM16-204
B.Designation and notification21-234
III.Basic issues regarding the operation of an NPM24-405
A.Points for States24-295
B.Points for NPMs30-405
1.The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the
“Optional Protocol”) provides considerable, detailed guidance concerning the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism
(“NPM”), including its mandate and powers. The most relevant of these provisions are Article 3, 4, 17-23, 29 and 35, though other
provisions of the Optional Protocol are also of importance for NPMs. It is axiomatic that all NPMs must be structured in a manner
which fully reflects these provisions.
2.It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that it has in place an NPM which complies with the requirements of the Optional
Protocol. For its part, the SPT works with those bodies which it has been informed have been designated by the State as its NPM.
Whilst the SPT does not, nor does it intend to formally assess the extent to which NPMs conform to OPCAT requirements, it does
consider it a vital part of its role to advise and assist States and NPMs fulfil their obligations under the Optional Protocol. To this end,
the SPT has previously set out ‘Preliminary Guidelines’ concerning the on-going development of NPMs in its First Annual Report. It
has had the occasion to further amplify its thinking in subsequent Annual Reports and also in a number recommendations set out in its
visit Reports. In the light of the experience it has gained, the SPT believes it would be useful to issue a revised set of Guidelines on
National Preventive Mechanisms which reflect and respond to some of the questions and issues which have arisen in practice.
3.These Guidelines do not seek to repeat what is set out in the text of the Optional Protocol but to add further clarity regarding the
expectations of the SPT regarding the establishment and operation of NPMs. Section I sets out a number of ‘Basic principles’ which
should inform all aspects of the work of an NPM. This is followed in Section II by guidelines addressed primarily to States and
concerning a number of issues relating to the establishment of NPMs, and in Section III by guidelines to both the State and to the
NPM itself concerning the practical functioning of an NPM.
4.As it gains further experience, the SPT will seek to add additional sections to these Guidelines, addressing particular aspects of the
work of NPMs in greater detail.
5.The NPM should complement rather than replace existing systems of oversight and its establishment should not preclude the
creation or operation of other such complementary systems.
6.The mandate and powers of the NPM should be in accordance with the provisions of the Optional Protocol.