OPCAT and the Paris Principles

The OPCAT pays particular attention to the formal independence, composition, mandate, jurisdiction and capacity of the NPM, including the ‘functional’ and ‘personal’ independence of the mechanism (Art. 17; 18(1)), jurisdiction over ‘all places of detention, to all persons deprived of their liberty, and to all relevant information’ (Art. 20), the ability to make recommendations to the relevant authorities, submit proposals and observations concerning existing or draft legislation (Art. 19), a plural and adequately professional and expert membership (Art. 18(2)), the dissemination and publication of an annual report (Art. 21(1)), as well as specific requirements regarding private interviews, regular visitation and witness protection. Significantly, the NPM also have the right to follow-up on their recommendations and State Parties are required to enter into dialogue with the NPM regarding implementation (Art. 22). This framework sets a high bar for many NHRIs (and State Parties) but, with some modifications, is in the spirit of the Paris Principles.