NPM Resources

There now exists an array of resources devoted to the institution and operation of NPMs, which are often available in different languages. What follows is a brief overview of some of the more useful publications and tools categorized by their source:

In its relatively short lifetime the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has issued some extremely useful documents on the topic of NPMs. As the UN body which has a direct advisory role vis-a-vis OPCAT States Parties and NPMs, interested Canadian readers are urged to consult these short documents:

  • Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Guidelines on national preventive mechanisms (UN Doc. CAT/OP/12/5, 9 December 2010) (English/French);
  • Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Analytical assessment tool for national preventive mechanisms (UN Doc. CAT/OP/1/Rev.1, 25 January 2016) (English/French);
  • Compilation of advice provided by the Subcommittee in response to requests from national preventive mechanisms, Ninth annual report of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT/OP/C/57/4), 22 March 2016 – Appendix 1 (English/French).

NPM resource preventing tortureIn 2018 the OHCHR Technical Assistance Division issued a new consolidated publication on NPMs simply titled Preventing Torture: The Role of National Preventive Mechanisms, which drew heavily on these previous documents. Presented in a guide-style format this important publication is easily accessible and comes as recommended reading. Unfortunately, the publication is at present only available in English.

The publication’s annexes contain several of the previously cited SPT documents. Thus, in the interests of saving paper and time, readers may wish to refer to this most recent document first.

More generally, the SPT’s website is unquestionably worth visiting for more general information about the global state of OPCAT implementation as well as about the activities of the UN Subcommittee.

The Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture (where this writer worked for over a decade) has produced several key publications on the institution of NPMs. The organization’s first major publication on the topic, Guide on the Establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms, was published in 2006 and even though it is now more than twelve years old the Guide still remains an important reference point on the topic of putting in place NPMs. The publication is available in both English and French and can be downloaded free-of-charge (please click on the images below).


In 2010 the above Guide was superceded by the APT’s Optional Protocol Implementation Manual. While it is also a very informative publication, it suffers slightly from being overly long and densely written and is therefore less accessible than its predecessor. Nonetheless, as a reference text on any given NPM-related topic, it serves a useful purpose. Once again, it is available in both of Canada’s official languages (click here for the French version).

NPM resource APT Implementation ManualA final APT document of direct relevance to the Canadian context is the organization’s 2011 Briefing Paper, Implementing the OPCAT in Federal and Other Decentralised States. The paper focuses on the unique challenges which a federal or decentralized political decision-making structure imposes on future OPCAT States Parties. The examples advanced of NPMs in federal or decentralized states such as Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will give ample food for thought in the Canadian context. The publication, which is only available in English, can be downloaded by clicking on the image below.

NPM resource Federal States paperFor Canadian readers who have an interest in how the OPCAT is being implemented elsewhere in the world, the APT so-called OPCAT Database most definitely merits exploration. In a nutshell, the OPCAT Database offers an abundance of detailed information of how NPMs are being designated or established in most OPCAT States Parties. As the challenges of keeping up-to-date such a large database are not insignificant, entries may occasionally be slightly dated. That said, the OPCAT Database is one-of-a-kind and one day we hope to see an entry for Canada. A very handy video exists regarding how to use the OPCAT Database.

The Human Rights Implementation Centre at the University of Bristol Law School similarly maintains a database of NPMs, known as The National Preventive Mechanism Directory. The Directory offers a snapshot of OPCAT implementation at the national level by country organized by regions.

NPM Resources

For readers with a more academic interest in NPMs/OPCAT/torture prevention the Human Rights Implementation Centre lists the different publications and presentations of its staff members in one handy location, although direct access to the said documents is not automatic. Nonetheless, interested persons may be able to request copies or access them via their institution’s on-line library catalogue.

Amnesty International’s 2007 publication, 10 Guiding Principles for the Establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms, offers a succinct overview of the fundamental criteria to be met by OPCAT States Parties when instituting such entities. It represents a timely reminder of the minimum criteria such actors should attain when doing so. It is available in English and French.

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights has partnered with different academic organizations to produce publications with an interesting NPM slant. The below publications on NPM-judicial cooperation and enhancing NPM impact may therefore be of interest to certain readers. Please click on the images to access the documents, which are available in English only:

 NPM resource Prevention of Ill-treatment       NPM resource Enhancing Impact of NPMs

The outcome documents of various international conferences and seminars on the OPCAT system offer some very useful insights regarding the overall operation of NPMs.

OSCE-ODIHR logoIn October 2016 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) and APT co-hosted a meeting of NPMs from the OSCE region which, among other issues, took stock of the achievements of NPMs and
their related challenges in the OSCE region, some 10 years after the entry into force of the OPCAT. The Outcome Report can be obtained by clicking on the OSCE-ODIHR logo.

It should not be forgotten that Canada signed the Helsinki Final Act as long ago as 1975, eventually paving the way for the establishment of what became the OSCE. Canada remains an active participating State of the OSCE right up to the present day.

Steven Caruana’s 2017 Churchill Fellowship publication also makes for interesting NPM reading, especially for readers who wish to obtain a first-hand insight into how selected NPMs are operating in practice. The publication, Enhancing best practice inspection methodologies for oversight bodies with an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture focus, identifies both good practice methodologies as well as a concept of what constitutes a framework for good practice.

Best Practice coverIn this former connection the author highlights various NPM practices including: pre-visit research, dialogue-based monitoring, use of surveys, and disability informed/inclusive practice. In the report the author focuses on the activities of various NPMs including those in Denmark, Greece, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Please click on the publication cover to access Steven Caruana’s report.

An invaluable report by Andreea Lachsz offers some very unique NPM insights from an Indigenous perspective. As part of her 2018 Churchill Fellowship to Investigate Overseas Practices of Monitoring Places of Detention the author presents numerous illuminating insights into the ‘Indigenization’ of detention in her native Australia. As a lawyer and human rights activist located in Australia’s Northern Territory, Andreea Lachsz based this excellent report on her first-hand experience engaging with the criminal justice system in this vast geographic region. Andreea’s report was featured on this website in February 2020.

If you think we have missed out an important publication or tool, please let us know.