Australian Federal govt to ratify international torture treaty


Canberra, Feb 9 : The Australian Federal Government on Thursday announced that it will ratify an international treaty to improve the oversight of the country’s prisons and detention centres.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) would be ratified by the end of this year, national broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

Australia’s prisons and immigration detention centres would then be monitored by a network of independent inspecting bodies, which could include existing human rights bodies.

The appointment of those inspectorates would be worked out in consultation with the states and territories.

“These are intended to assist states to better protect people in detention from torture and mistreatment,” Brandis said.

“The aim is not to shame, it is not to engage in an act of moral vanity, it is to cooperate in a mutual endeavour to bring about a tangible improvement to the treatment of people in detention.”

The ratification of the treaty would not affect the Manus Island offshore processing centre because Papua New Guinea has not ratified the same treaty.

The Government of Nauru ratified the treaty in 2013.

The move has been hailed by the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission.

Australia has been criticized or the cruel and inhuman treatment of asylum seekers detained at processing centres in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Images aired by ABC last year, showed children aged between 10 and 17 in a Darwin centre subjected to mistreatment by guards, including images of a young boy whose neck was tied to a chair and his head covered with a hood, and the use of tear gas inside the cells.