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Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Advice of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to the
National Preventive Mechanism of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland regarding compulsory quarantine
for Coronavirus, adopted at its 40th session (10 to 14 February
2020)

The National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland has asked for advice from the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT)
concerning the exercise of its mandate in places where persons are held in compulsory
quarantine for reasons of public health protection.
1. The SPT notes that Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) provides
that:
1. Each State Party shall allow visits, in accordance with the present Protocol, by the
mechanisms referred to in articles 2 and 3 to any place under its jurisdiction and
control where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty, either by virtue of an
order given by a public authority or at its instigation or with its consent or acquiescence
(hereinafter referred to as places of detention). […]
2. For the purposes of the present Protocol, deprivation of liberty means any form of
detention or imprisonment or the placement of a person in a public or private custodial
setting which that person is not permitted to leave at will by order of any judicial,
administrative or other authority.
2. It follows from this definition, read in conjunction with Article 19(a) of the OPCAT
concerning the visiting powers of the NPM, that any place where a person is held in
quarantine and from which they are not free to leave is a place of deprivation of liberty
for the purposes of the OPCAT and so falls within the visiting mandate of an NPM.
3. Although not expressly stated, it is implicit from the structure of the OPCAT that NPM
visits may, like those of the SPT be temporarily restricted in accordance with Article
14 (2) of the OPCAT which provides that:

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