From June 2006 to June 2009 Professor Rachel Murray held a high profile AHRC funded project which examined the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. Professor Malcolm Evans was the joint grant holder whilst Dr Elina Steinerte and Mr Antenor Hallo de Wolf were the Research Associates on the project. The culmination of the project was the publication of the book The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture by the Oxford University Press, see Press release about this.
The research process in the remits of this project was extensive. Over the three years of the project, there were some 150 interviews conducted with individuals from national governments, NHRIs, national NGOs and civil society organisations of nearly 30 countries. All the regions of the world were covered, selecting countries that have ratified OPCAT and already had established or were in the process of establishing their NPMs. Also the countries that had only signed OPCAT and were preparing for the ratification were included as were such countries that had decided not to ratify the instrument at all. The members of the SPT were interviewed as were the staff of the OHCHR and representatives of international civil society.
We also participated in numerous events surrounding the implementation of OPCAT, provided expert advice to various countries on the aspects of its implementation, produced a number of policy papers and held a number of high-level meetings and conferences ourselves, most notably:
• The Optional Protocol to the UNCAT: Preventive Mechanisms and Standards. First Annual Conference on the implementation of OPCAT 19 - 20 April, 2007 (Bristol UK); see Final Proceedings (PDF, 403kB).
• The OPCAT in the African Region: Challenges of Implementation. Second Annual Conference on the implementation of OPCAT organised. 3-4 April, 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa); see Summary and Recommendations (PDF, 161kB).
‘OPCAT in the OSCE region: What it means and how to make it work?' 25-26 November 2008 (Prague, Czech Republic); see Summary and Recommendations (PDF, 236kB).
In September 2006 we established OPCAT Contact Group, a gathering of civil society organisations that all work on aspects of OPCATs’ implementation. The OPCAT Contact Group has gained standing before the SPT and has participated in all but one sessions of the treaty body, providing assistance and support to the SPT. It now comprises Amnesty International (AI), Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT), Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC), International Disability Alliance (IDA), Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), Penal Reform International (PRI), Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) and World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP).
Whilst the project is now completed, its many outputs are still highly relevant and can be located through the OPCAT project.