all other places from which persons are prevented from leaving for similar purposes
fall within the scope of the OPCAT mandate and thus within the sphere of oversight of
both the SPT and of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) established within the
OPCAT framework.

II.

6.

Numerous NPMs have asked the SPT for further advice regarding their response to this
situation. Naturally, as autonomous bodies, NPMs are free to determine how best to
respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic within their respective jurisdictions.
The SPT remains available to respond to any specific request for guidance that it may
be asked to give. The SPT is aware that a number of valuable statements have already
been issued by various global and regional and regional organisations which it
commends to the consideration of States Parties and NPMs.3,4 The purpose of the
present Advice is also to offer general guidance within the framework of the OPCAT
for all those responsible for, and undertaking preventive visits to, places of deprivation
of liberty.

7.

The SPT would emphasise that whilst the manner in which preventive visiting is
conducted will almost certainly be affected by necessary measures taken in the
interests of public health, this does not mean that preventive visiting should cease. On
the contrary, the potential exposure to the risk of ill-treatment faced by those in places
of detention may be heightened as a consequence of such public health measures taken.
The SPT considers that NPMs should continue to undertake visits of a preventive
nature, respecting necessary limitations on the manner in which their visits are
undertaken. It is particularly important at this time that NPMs ensure that effective
measures are taken to reduce the possibility of detainees suffering forms of inhuman
and degrading treatment as a result of the very real pressures which detention systems
and those responsible for them now face.

Measures to be taken by authorities concerning all places of deprivation of
liberty, including detention facilities, immigration detention, closed
refugee camps, psychiatric hospitals and other medical settings
8.

It is axiomatic that the State is responsible for the healthcare of those whom it holds in
custody and that it has a duty of care to its detention and health-care staff. The Nelson
Mandela Rules make it clear that ‘… Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of
health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary
health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal
status’.5

Coronavirus, adopted at its 40th session (10 to 14 February 2020), available at
https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/OPCAT/NPM/2020.03.03-Advice_UK_NPM.pdf
3 See, for example, ‘Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of
detention - Interim guidance, 15 March 2020’ issued by the WHO and the ‘Statement of principles
relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) pandemic issues by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture’ on 20 March
2020 CPT/Inf (2020)13 (19th March 2020).
4 See CPT/Inf (2020)13 (19th March 2020) available a20www.coe.int/en/web/cpt/-/covid-19-councilof-europe-anti-torture-committee-issues-statement-of-principles-relating-to-the-treatment-of-personsdeprived-of-their-liberty5 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela
Rules), UN Doc A/RES/70/175 (17 December 2015), Rule 24(1).

2

Select target paragraph3