Available translations: English العربيّة

Preventing torture in places of detention

Graphic: Boots of detention centre officials

Association for the Prevention of Torture LogoAssociation for the Prevention of Torture

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) play a vital role to prevent torture in all places where people are deprived of their liberty.

They do this by conducting regular visits to detention facilities, by providing recommendations to the government and to detaining authorities, by investigating allegations of torture and by 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 APF and the APT support NHRIs, governments and other national stakeholders to understand their roles and responsibilities under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), especially the capacity of the NHRI to fulfil the role of a 'national preventive mechanism'.

In 2014, the APF and the APT launched the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project, an innovative approach that harnessed the unique mandate of NHRIs and the expertise of senior NHRI staff to tackle the risk factors that can lead to torture and ill-treatment.


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


Past programs

The APF has delivered:

  • Blended learning course on preventive monitoring of immigration detention facilities, October-November 2016
  • Blended learning course for all APF members on investigating allegations of torture, April-June 2016
  • Blended learning course for all APF members on monitoring the situation of migrants in detention, November-December 2015
  • Blended learning course for West Asian NHRIs (Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Iraq and Bahrain), January-March 2014
  • OPCAT ratification roundtables and in-house training for the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Blended learning course for South Asian NHRIs (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka), July-September 2011
  • Blended learning course for South East Asian NHRIs (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor Leste), October-December 2010
  • Workshop on OPCAT ratification with the Australian Human Rights Commission and national stakeholders, 25 November 2009
  • Workshop on OPCAT ratification with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and national stakeholders, 8 October 2009
  • Workshop on OPCAT ratification and NHRI establishment for national stakeholders in Japan, 5 October 2009
  • Workshop on OPCAT ratification with the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights and national stakeholders, 17-19 November 2008
  • Workshop on OPCAT ratification with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and national stakeholders, 23-24 September 2008
  • Prevention of Torture Training with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and national stakeholders, 26-28 June 2007
  • Prevention of Torture Training with the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and national stakeholders, 24-26 26 April 2007
  • Prevention of Torture Training with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and national stakeholders, November 2006

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Image credits

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