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SPT: Belize needs mechanism to stop and prevent torture and ill-treatment of persons in detention

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, SPT, says that Belize must establish an independent national preventative mechanism to stop and prevent torture and ill-treatment of persons in detention.  The committee was on a working visit Belize in late April. A national preventive mechanism is an independent national body that will examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in places of detention on a regular basis. It should subsequently make recommendations to appropriate authorities. Malcolm Evan, who headed the delegation said that Belize should establish this body as soon as possible, quote “ensuring that it is functionally independent, adequately resourced and mandated to carry out unannounced visits to places where people are deprived of liberty. When the national preventive mechanism is established, it will help the authorities improve the conditions of detention and ensure an effective policy for preventing torture and ill-treatment in the country,” end of quote. Belize signed onto the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2015. The country should have established the mechanism within a year of ratification but up to date has not done so, according to the Committee. The team visited the central prison, various police stations throughout the country, and a juvenile institution, where members of the delegation freely interviewed staff as well as people deprived of their liberty. The UN experts also met with representatives of civil society, government ministers, the Chief Justice, and the Ombudsman. Following the visit, the team will compile a report of its observations and make recommendations that will be presented to the government, which it encourages to make public.