UN Torture Prevention Body To Visit Bulgaria
GENEVA (22 October 2021) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will make its first visit to Bulgaria from 24 to 30 October to assess the treatment of people deprived of their liberty, and examine the existing protection measures against torture and ill-treatment.
The places to be visited by the SPT delegation include prisons, police stations and other detention facilities. The experts will meet with government officials and the national monitoring body, officially known as the national preventive mechanism (NPM) of Bulgaria, as well as civil society representatives.
“This is SPT’s first visit to Bulgaria and also our first mission after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. We will inspect the latest situation of people deprived of their liberty in Bulgaria, with particular focuses on the COVID-19 measures and their impacts on people in different kinds of detention,” said Nora Sveaass, the head of the SPT delegation.
“It is important for independent monitoring bodies like the SPT to carry out regular visits to detention places to prevent torture and ill-treatment. In order to fulfil our mission, the collaboration of the NPM is essential. We will thus, during the visit, be looking into the organization and functioning of the Bulgarian NPM and will be carrying out joint visits with them,” she added.
The SPT has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). At the end of the visit, the SPT will present its confidential preliminary observations to the Government of Bulgaria and the national preventive mechanism.
The SPT delegation will be composed of Nora Sveaass, Head of Delegation (Norway), Vasiliki Artinopoulou (Greece), Marie Brasholt (Denmark), Jakub Czepek (Poland), Maria Luisa Romero (Panama), and Zdenka Perović (Montenegro).
To date, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture has been ratified by 90 states. States are under the obligation to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered visits to all places where persons are deprived of their liberty. States Parties should also establish a national preventive mechanism, which should conduct regular visits to places throughout the country where people are deprived of liberty.
The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty, through visits and recommendations to States parties to the Optional Protocol. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, where necessary, to national preventive mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT publish the reports.
The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States Parties.