6 March 2008


Reversing yet another policy of the previous administration, the newly–elected Australian government has indicated that it will move to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture

That leaves China, Iran, Iraq and the United States as the most prominent countries yet to sign and ratify the Convention.

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international human rights instrument, under the purview of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture around the world.

The Convention advises states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their borders, and forbids states to return people to their home country if there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

Under the Optional Protocol, member countries are subject to international and national visits to places like prisons and immigration detention centres.

The Australian government was urged to take this step by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the move has been widely welcomed by human rights groups sauch as Amnesty both within Australia and abroad.

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