The Tasmanian Government intends to expand the role of the Custodial Inspector as best suited to ensure people in places of detention are treated humanely and appropriately.

This follows Australia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). OPCAT requires each state to nominate a body or bodies to fulfil the role of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).

Our Government intends to introduce legislation proposing amendments to the Custodial Inspector Act 2016 that will nominate the Custodial Inspector to fulfil the role of the NPM, a role which will regularly examine the treatment of persons in places of detention to ensure they are treated appropriately.

The Custodial Inspector Amendment (OPCAT) Bill intends to expand the Custodial Inspector Act 2016 to provide for the establishment of Tasmania’s NPM. This will allow for:

  • the regular inspection of places of detention, which includes prisons, police stations, closed psychiatric facilities, and closed forensic disability facilities;
  • the publication of guidelines and standards;
  • annual reporting to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and information sharing with the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture;
  • the disclosure or communication of relevant information to the NPM by a person or body; and
  • the referral of matters by the NPM to another person or a body existing under law for investigation where appropriate (such as the Health Complaints Commissioner).

A public consultation period for the Bill is now open. Submissions are invited until the close of consultation on 11 December 2020.

Elise Archer, Attorney-General and Minister for Corrections