Monitoring mechanisms can take different forms, but regardless of their shape and structure they should:
- be a multidisciplinary team of independent experts, involving human rights experts, doctors and psychiatrists, for example
- carry out visits to gather first-hand observations about conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees, with the freedom to speak confidentially with detainees and staff
- scrutinise the physical facility, rules and procedures, and the adequacy of any safeguards, to help identify actual abuse and factors contributing to an environment in which ill-treatment or torture occurs.
Monitoring bodies should assess the information against national, regional and international standards and good practice. They should identify systemic factors that contribute to torture and ill-treatment and make recommendations to the authorities in order to address them.
Follow-up visits should be made to identify how recommendations are being implemented, and to refine them if necessary.
Visits and the process of dialogue with the authorities should seek to achieve improvements for detainees, for the place of detention as a whole, and for the overall state detention system. Visits should also contribute to increasing accountability and prevent impunity for those involved in torture and ill-treatment.
See our tools and resources.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture requires parties to the Protocol to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in compliance with the above principles. It also established the UN Sub-Committee to Prevent Torture (SPT) to undertake monitoring visits at the international level.