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Vaccination programmes for people deprived of liberty

The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture(SPT) has called on States to ensure that people deprived of liberty are included in national vaccination programmes against COVID-19, and to continue efforts to tackle overcrowding in detention centres.

The SPT has published its Follow-up COVID Advice after receiving information from 49 out of the 90 States parties to the Optional Protocol on Prevention of Torture and 64 domestic torture monitoring bodies, officially known as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), on what steps have been taken to reduce the impact of the pandemic on people deprived of their liberty, including continuing to improve hygiene conditions and accessibility of health care, especially by ensuring that vaccinations programmes cover people deprived of their liberty.

However, the STP stressed that further measures have to be taken to reduce the long-term negative impacts, by ensuring that people deprived of their liberty whose mental health has been affected by COVID-19 receive adequate counselling and psychosocial support.

The UN torture prevention body, which conducted its latest session online in June, has also adopted a Protocol for National Protection Mechanisms to continue their on-site visits and monitory work during the pandemic to avoid any protection gap.

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. The Subcommittee is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Subcommittee has a mandate to undertake visits to States parties, during the course of which it may visit any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty.