UNCAT Briefing Paper Prevention Redress Prohibition UNCAT Punishment Reporting Principal obligations of the UNCAT 3. What is the Optional Protocol to the UNCAT? The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is designed to give States the practical assistance needed to effectively prevent torture and other forms of illtreatment, and significantly help fulfil the obligations of the UNCAT. The OPCAT does not set new norms or standards. It instead establishes a system of regular visits to all places of detention, conducted by national and international bodies, which work in close cooperation with national authorities, identifying gaps in laws and practice to protect the rights and dignity of all persons deprived of their liberty. 2 A State may ratify the Optional Protocol at the same time as, or at any time after, ratifying the UNCAT. 4. What are the priorities on UNCAT signature or ratification? Pursuant to the international law of treaties, a signing State does not undertake positive legal obligations under the UNCAT upon its signature. However, the signature indicates the State’s intention to take steps to express its consent to be bound by the UNCAT at a later date. Signature also creates an obligation, in the period between signature and ratification to refrain in good faith from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the UNCAT. On ratification, a State agrees to formally consent to be bound by its obligations, engaging its international responsibility. The State must take steps to implement the obligations of the UNCAT in good faith, and to report to the Committee within one year on the steps it has taken. 2 For more information on the OPCAT, please see the dedicated APT webpages, at http://www.apt.ch/en/what-isthe-opcat/. 3

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