Update: 19.08.2011

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

A central guarantee of the European Convention on Human Rights is enshrined in its Article 3: 

«No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.» To implement this prohibition, the Council of Europe created the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which calls for a preventive monitoring system in all prisons and establishments, in which people are held against their will. Monitoring visits are conducted by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). 

  • CPT
    Official Website

Composition of the Committee

The Committee is composed of 45 members and has its headquarters in Strasbourg. Each contracting state is represented by one member that remains independent and impartial and must be at the disposal of the Committee for effective cooperation and participation. The origin of members is diverse: they are lawyers, medical doctors as well as police specialists and prison experts. They are elected by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Mandate

The Committee «[...] shall, by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.» (Article 1 of the Convention). It visits detention centres (prisons, attendance centres, police stations, psychiatric wards, deportation prisons, etc.) and inspects the treatment of arrested persons. If necessary, it recommends improvements to the states. 

Modus Operandi

The visits are carried out by a delegation of two or more members. They are accompanied by individuals from the secretariat as well as from experts and translators. The CPT visits member states periodically. However, it can conduct additional ad hoc visits if deemed necessary. A delegation's visit must be announced but the exact time and place must not be specified. Under certain extraordinary conditions, a visit may directly follow the announcement. The state in question may refuse a visit only under extraordinary circumstances (for example, for reasons of national security or public security or a disturbance of order in the detention centres). 

Unrestricted Access

The Committee has unrestricted access to the detention centres as well as the right to look around unrestrictedly. It may speak to persons in detention without witnesses. 
Based on these audits, the CPT formulates suggestions on the improvement of the detainees' situation. The report is delivered to the state in question together with the request that it comment on the report. The report is rated confidential unless the states agrees to its publication and the state's comment thereon. If a states does not comply and the CPT has a two-thirds majority, it may release a public statement. 

Standards on the Treatment of Imprisoned Persons

Over the years, the CPT has established numerous standards to judge the treatment of imprisoned persons. The most crucial norms were published in a brochure called «CTP Standards».

  • CTP Standards (pdf, 96 p.)
    Document of the Council of Europe CPT

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