Upcoming OPCAT Webinar: ‘Unlocking Victorian Justice’

The Canada OPCAT Project is incredibly honoured to have been invited to speak at a virtual event, ‘Unlocking Victorian Justice – OPCAT: An opportunity to prevent the ill-treatment, torture and death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody‘, scheduled to take place at 5 pm on 2 March (Ottawa-time) or 9 am on 3 March 2021 (Canberra-time). Interested readers are warmly invited to register here.

Unlocking Victorian Justice webinar

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) is organizing this timely discussion ‘on the role that OPCAT could play in the prevention of the death, torture and ill-treatment of people detained in Victoria, and across Australia.’

Readers may recall that Australia ratified the OPCAT in December 2017, opting to postpone its obligation to implement an NPM for three years. The Unlocking Victorian Justice webinar comes at a time when the crucial issue of OPCAT implementation is under intense discussion.

VALS’ Senior Policy, Research and Advocacy Officer Andreea Lachsz, whose invaluable research was recently featured in these pages, will moderate the Unlocking Victorian Justice panel of Australian and international guests, opened by the Senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe, the very first Indigenous or Aboriginal Senator for the state of Victoria.

Regrettably, as also documented in detail in Canada, Indigenous men, women and youths are significantly over-represented in various detention settings in Australia, an unacceptable reality which any future NPM in the country will need to confront head-on. Yet unlike Canada, the OPCAT ratification and implementation process in Australia has advanced considerably further, despite any on-going frustrations relating to the process.

Unlocking Victorian Justice webinar

The other panelists will include the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Dr. Elina Steinerte, Senior Advisor at the Association for the Prevention of Torture, Ben Buckland, and the former Chair of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, Professor Malcolm Evans. Yours truly will also put in a fleeting appearance with a focus on the role of civil society in relation to the implementation of the OPCAT.

Over the past couple of years the Canada OPCAT Project has featured a series of different articles on the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT in Australia, including on the key role of civil society in this connection.

Interested persons may also wish to consult the website of the Australian Government for a list of related resources and publications or refer to the website of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Australia’s so-called National Preventive Mechanism Coordinator, for more detailed information about the state of OPCAT implementation in the country.

Please join us. Canadians, Australians or anyone else – you will be very welcome!


Find out more about the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Register for the webinar here.

See Andreea Lachsz’s 2018 Churchill Fellowship to Investigate Overseas Practices of Monitoring Places of Detention, also featured on this website.