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Australia’s federal government has announced it will ratify and implement the OPCAT Treaty, Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, improving the conditions of detainees in all domestic places of detention and enhancing the independent bodies’ power of inspection so as to identify and address problems before they escalate into mistreatment.

The turning-point for a better change has been the case of Mark Holcroft, a knock-about Aussie bloke sentenced to seven months in prison for drunk driving; he died during a transfe from Bathurst prison to a minimum-security facility of a heart attack because the officers denied him to get medical help. No one deliberately wanted to harm Mark since the police just applied the regular policy, but system-wide problems put him at risk.

In Australia, mistreatment is almost never the result of a deliberate policy to do harm, but problems tend to be caused by the fact that policies and practices are not properly thought through or reviewed. In this sense, OPCAT may have a positive impact if governments recognize where detention problems exist and are then open to change.

According to the Treaty, when a person is detained, he remains human, and protecting his basic rights is in everybody’s interest. Treating detainees humanely is an opportunity for education, reform, and healing, and it shows a Country’s degree of civilization. The aim is entering prisons so as to make sure Australia lives up to the standards the country set for itself; however, this opportunity will amount to nothing unless it will be grasped by both government and civil society.


The gLAWcal Team

LIBEAC project

Sunday, 12 February 2017

(source: The Guardian)