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Advice of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to States Parties and National Preventive Mechanisms relating to the Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 25, 2020, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture urgently adopted a document, which offers advice to the OPCAT States Parties and National Preventive Mechanisms relating to the protection of persons deprived of their liberty from ill-treatment.

The document deals with important issues both in relation to traditional places of detention and official places of quarantine created to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"Measures taken to help address the risk to detainees and to staff in places of detention should reflect the approaches set out in this Advice. It is also important that there is transparent communication to all persons deprived of liberty, their families and the media concerning the measures being taken and the reasons for them”, reads the document.

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture also clarifies that National Preventive Mechanisms should continue exercising their visiting mandate during the coronavirus pandemic, albeit the manner in which they do so must to take account of legitimate restrictions currently imposed on social contact. According to the Subcommittee, National Preventive Mechanisms cannot be completely denied access to official places of detention, including places of quarantine.

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