The prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, set out in article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, is an absolute human right from which there can be no derogation. Respect for a person’s physical and mental integrity lies at the core of human rights protection and every effort must be made by states to ensure people deprived of their liberty are not ill-treated.

The work to prevent torture and other forms of ill treatment is carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), an independent, non-judicial and proactive control mechanism with a preventive mandate.

The CPT organises visits to places of detention to assess how people deprived of their liberty are treated. These places include prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, holding centres for immigration detainees, psychiatric hospitals and social care homes. CPT delegations have unlimited access to places of detention and the right to move inside such places without restriction. They interview people deprived of their liberty in private and communicate freely with anyone who can provide information.

The CPT is a non-judicial body, and is not empowered to take up individual complaints, which are handled by the European Court of Human Rights

Before carrying out a periodic or ad hoc visit to a country, the CPT usually consults various civil society organisations and human rights defenders. During visits, meetings with representatives of international and/or national non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders are an integral part of the programme.

After each visit, the CPT transmits a confidential report which contains the CPT’s findings and specific recommendations to the state concerned. The national authorities are requested to provide a response to the issues raised in the report. Visit reports and government responses are published only at the request of the national authorities (on a case-by-case basis or through a so-called “automatic publication procedure”).

Individuals and organisations with relevant information concerning the situation of people deprived of their liberty in member states are invited to inform the CPT through the contact page.