(a)The prevalence of torture and ill-treatment is influenced by a broad range of factors, including the general level of enjoyment of
human rights and the rule of law, levels of poverty, social exclusion, corruption, discrimination, etc. Whilst a generally high level of
respect for human rights and the rule of law within a society or community does not provide a guarantee against torture and illtreatment occurring, it offers the best prospects for effective prevention. To that end, the Subcommittee is deeply interested in the
general situation within a country concerning the enjoyment of human rights and how this affects the situation of persons deprived of
(b)In its work the Subcommittee must engage with the broader regulatory and policy frameworks relevant to the treatment of persons
deprived of their liberty and with those responsible for them. It must also be concerned with how these are translated into practice,
through the various institutional arrangements which are established in order to do so, their governance and administration and how
they function in practice. Thus a holistic approach to the situation must be taken, informed by, but not limited to, its experience gained
through its visits to particular places of detention.
(c)Prevention will include ensuring that a wide variety of procedural safeguards for those deprived of their liberty are recognized and
realized in practice. These will relate to all phases of detention, from initial apprehension to final release from custody. Since the
purpose of such safeguards is to reduce the likelihood or rise of torture or ill-treatment occurring, they are of relevance irrespective of
whether there is any evidence of torture or ill-treatment actually taking place.
(d)Detention conditions not only raise issues of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment but in some circumstances can
also be a means of torture, if used in a manner which accords with the provisions of article 1 of the Convention. Therefore,
recommendations regarding conditions of detention play a critical role in effective prevention and will touch on a wide variety of
issues, including matters relating to physical conditions, the reasons for, and levels of, occupancy and the provision of, and access to,
a wide range of facilities and services.
(e)Visits to States parties and to particular places of detention should be carefully prepared in advance taking into account all relevant
factors, including the general legal and administrative frameworks, substantive rights, procedural and due process guarantees
pertaining to detention as well as the practical contexts in which they operate. The manner in which visits are conducted, their
substantive focus and the recommendations which flow from them may vary according to such factors and in the light of the situations
encountered in order to best achieve the overriding purpose of the visit, this being to maximize its preventive potential and impact.
(f)Reports and recommendations will be most effective if they are based on rigorous analysis and are factually well grounded. In its
visit reports, the Subcommittee’s recommendations should be tailored to the situations which they address in order to offer the
greatest practical guidance possible. In formulating its recommendations, the Subcommittee is conscious that there is no logical limit to
the range of issues that, if explored, might have a preventive impact. Nevertheless, it believes that it is appropriate to focus on those
issues which, in the light both of its visit to the State party in question and its more general experience, appear to it to be most
pressing, relevant and realizable.
(g)Effective domestic mechanisms of oversight, including complaints mechanisms, form an essential part of the apparatus of
prevention. These mechanisms will take a variety of forms and operate at many levels. Some will be internal to the agencies involved,
others will provide external scrutiny from within the apparatus of government, whilst others will provide wholly independent scrutiny,
the latter to include the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to be established in accordance with the provisions of the Optional
(h)Torture and ill-treatment are more easily prevented if the system of detention is open to scrutiny. NPMs, together with national
human rights institutions and ombudsman’s offices, play a key role in ensuring that such scrutiny takes place. This is supported and
complemented by civil society, which also plays an important role in ensuring transparency and accountability by monitoring places of
detention, examining the treatment of detainees and by providing services to meet their needs. Further complementary scrutiny is
provided by judicial oversight. In combination, the NPM, civil society and the apparatus of judicial oversight provide essential and
mutually reinforcing means of prevention.
(i)There should be no exclusivity in the preventive endeavour. Prevention is a multifaceted and interdisciplinary endeavour. It must be
informed by the knowledge and experience of those from a wide range of backgrounds – e.g. legal, medical, educational, religious,
political, policing and the detention system.
(j)Although all those in detention form a vulnerable group, some groups suffer particular vulnerability, such as women, juveniles,
members of minority groups, foreign nationals, persons with disabilities, and persons with acute medical or psychological
dependencies or conditions. Expertise in relation to all such vulnerabilities is needed in order to lessen the likelihood of ill-treatment.