Available translations: English العربيّة

Preventing torture in places of detention

Graphic: Boots of detention centre officials

Australian Government LogoAustralian Government

National human rights institutions have a leading role to play in the prevention of torture by reminding governments of their obligation to respect international human rights standards, conducting regular visits to detention facilities, investigating complaints and supporting training for relevant officials.

The Prevention of Torture training program, developed by the APF in partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), provides APF members with the knowledge and skills to effectively monitor places of detention and to investigate allegations of torture.

The program includes an overview of the international human rights standards relating to the prevention of torture, as well as practical training in preparing for and undertaking visits to places of detention and interviewing detainees.

In addition, the program helps APF members to assess their capacity to fulfil the role of a National Preventive Mechanism and the extent to which they are able to comply with the standards set out in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

Graphic: Man sits alone on bed in a cell

Preventing Torture: An Operational Manual for National Human Rights Institutions

The manual provides a practical guide for staff of NHRIs to conduct preventive visits to places of detention and make recommendations for reform.

This video is part of a suite of audio-visual resources where NHRI representatives and international experts talk about monitoring places of detention and preventing torture and ill-treatment

Previous programs

Blended learning course for West Asia NHRIs (in Arabic), January-March 2014

Participants from the national human rights institutions of Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Iraq and Bahrain took part in this blended learning program, which included a five-week online course followed by a five-day workshop in Amman (24-28 March 2014) hosted by Jordan National Centre for Human Rights.

Mongolia: OPCAT ratification roundtables and in-house training (2011, 2012, 2013)

The APF joined with key partners to hold a series of events for the Mongolian Government, civil society and the National Human Rights Commission to discuss a range of practical issues in relation to implementing the OPCAT. Training was also provided for Commission staff and selected civil society groups on establishing and operating an effective 'national preventive mechanism'.

Blended learning course for South Asia NHRIs, July-September 2011

26 participants from the national human rights institutions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka took part in this blended learning program, which included a five-week online course followed by a five-day workshop in Kathmandu (19-23 September 2010) hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal.

Pilot blended learning course for South East Asia NHRIs, October-December 2010

27 participants from the national human rights institutions of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor Leste took part in the program, which included a five-week online course (25 October-28 November 2010) followed by a four-day workshop in Kuala Lumpur (6-9 December 2010) hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

Australia: Workshop on OPCAT ratification, 25 November 2009

Approximately 60 participants, including representatives from state and federal agencies, NGOs, the Australian Human Rights Commission, academics and international experts discussed the different models that Australia could adopt to meet its obligations under OPCAT.

South Korea: Workshop on OPCAT ratification, 8 October 2009

Around 80 participants from NGOs, academia and government agencies took part in the symposium, which followed on from discussions in November 2006 on the steps involved in ratifying and implementing OPCAT.

Japan: Workshop on OPCAT ratification and NHRI establishment, 5 October 2009

The workshop brought together representatives from government and civil society and was the first time the OPCAT had been discussed in such a forum in Japan. Separate discussions were held the following day with government officials.

Indonesia: Workshop on OPCAT ratification, 17-19 November 2008

Around 50 representatives from Indonesia's human rights commission, civil society organisations, government agencies and law enforcement bodies attended the conference to discuss practical issues related to OPCAT ratification, including possible models for a National Preventive Mechanism. It was followed by a two-day training program on undertaking preventive visits to places of detention.

Philippines: Workshop on OPCAT implementation, 23-24 September 2008

The workshop brought together a broad range of stakeholders to examine questions around detention monitoring mechanisms and to develop a 'road map' for effective implementation of the OPCAT in the Philippines.

Thailand: Prevention of Torture Training, 26-28 June 2007

Preventing Torture in Thailand: The Way Forward, held in Bangkok and Nakorn-Nayok, was a joint initiative of the APT and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, in partnership with the APF and the Swiss Government.

Maldives: Prevention of Torture Training, 24-26 April 2007

Implementing the UN Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol in the Maldives: Challenges and Opportunities, held in Male', involved representatives from the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, government departments and civil society. The workshop was jointly organised by the Commission, the APT, the Maldives Ministry of Home Affairs and the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the APF and the Swiss Government.

South Korea: Prevention of Torture Training, November 2006

More than 30 participants took part in the four-day training program, including representatives from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the Corrections Department of the Ministry of Justice, the National Police Service and national NGOs.


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Image credits

  1. Boots of detention centre officials - APF/James Iliffe