National Preventive Mechanism - prevention of torture

Regarding the human rights protection of the persons deprived of their liberty, the Ombudsman performs a twofold role:

According to the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman protects the human rights of the persons deprived of their liberty by acting upon individual complaints i.e. the Ombudsman acts after the violation of right has already occurred and the person deprived of liberty has submitted a complaint.

On the other hand, together with two representatives of the academic community and two representatives from non-governmental organizations which conduct activities in the area of human rights protection, the Ombudsman carries out the tasks of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), in line with the provisions of the Act on National Preventive Mechanism against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ANPM) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The work of the NPM is proactive, with the aim of improving the treatment and accommodation conditions of the persons deprived of their liberty in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Within the mentioned mandate the Ombudsman does not act on individual complaints; his/her role is preventive so that the infringements do not take place at all.

According to Article 3 of the ANPM, the activities of the National Preventive Mechanism are the following:

• regular visits to places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty, aimed at strengthening the protection of these persons from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

• giving recommendations to competent government bodies and institutions aimed at improving the treatment and the living conditions of the persons deprived of their liberty, with a view of preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

• making proposals and observations concerning the existing laws and regulations or their drafts with a view of enhancing the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

• cooperation with the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture (hereinafter: Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture), providing information and meeting with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.

The NPM members are authorized to pay unannounced visits to places and institutions and to examine the facilities where persons deprived of their liberty are held. They have free access to any information concerning these places and institutions, to all information on the number of persons deprived of their liberty and held in the places or institutions which they are visiting as well as to any information concerning the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, in line with the law. They are entitled to debrief individuals deprived of their liberty with an individual’s consent and without the presence of any officials working at the place or institution of detention as well as to interview other persons who may provide relevant information regarding the suspected violation of human rights in the establishment they are visiting.

COOPERATION WITH VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS

The work of the NPM also encompasses the cooperation with the competent international bodies such as the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT); the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT).

The Ombudsman regularly monitors and takes into consideration the opinions of the aforementioned bodies and provides them with notifications and annual reports on the work of the NPM. Moreover, Croatian NPM maintains permanent cooperation with the South East Europe NPM Network.