#Australia

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.

Posted by mp in Australia, Canada, Civil society, OPCAT, The Canada OPCAT Project

Webinar ‘COVID-19 and North American Corrections: Lessons for Australia’

If you missed this now past webinar, you can watch it on demand here.

The related PowerPoint presentations can also be accessed here.

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Depending upon exactly where you are in the world, set to take place on either 7th or 8th September, this is a webinar you will not want to miss out on! Incurable Australian OPCAT enthusiast Steven Caruana has pulled together yet another first-class panel of speakers, this time to reflect on the critical question of whether there are any key lessons for Australia from how the USA and Canada have responded to the current COVID-19 pandemic in prisons.

The spotlight will first fall on Canada, whose prisons – so far at least – have appeared to have escaped the very worst ravages of the current pandemic. This timely discussion will be led by the current Canadian Correctional Investigator, Ivan Zinger, followed by Ontario Independent Advisor on Corrections, Howard Sapers, and leading Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician, Fiona Kouyoumdjian.

In stark contrast, as has been widely documented, many prison institutions south of the 49th parallel find themselves in truly dire straits. The current state of affairs in the USA will be explored by leading medical experts, Homer Venters and Brie Williams, and penal reform activist Adnan Khan. Please click on the biographies of the different speakers to find out more about the webinar presenters.

As the webinar host, Thalia Anthony, a penal reform activist and law professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, will pull the discussion tightly together and coax out the most relevant COVID-19-related lessons for prison institutions in Australia.

During these different presentations webinar viewers will learn at first hand about the respective COVID-19 prison situations in Australia, Canada and USA, whether restrictive locked-down regimes have succeeded in protecting prisoners and staff alike, and whether prison decarceration has been an effective solution in countering the worsening pandemic.

You can watch the webinar on Zoom by requesting an invitation from Steven Caruana: steven_caruana1@hotmail.com. Please send requests early, as participation is limited to 400 persons and the seats are sure to fill up quickly!

Viewers in Ottawa/New York can watch the webinar at 7 pm on Monday 7th September 2020.

Viewers in Australia should tune into the webinar at 9 am on Tuesday 8th September (Australian Eastern Standard Time).


In the meantime, why not spend the next week exploring several of the other exciting seminars in the current series? Take a look below:

  • Human Rights and Detention in the time of COVID-19watch here;
  • The Relationship Between Civil Society and the National Preventive Mechanismwatch here;
  • Culturally Appropriate Oversight of Detained Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People in the Northern Territorywatch here;
  • Implementing OPCAT in Australiawatch here.

Many thanks to Steven Caruana for all of the above information and links.

Posted by mp in COVID-19, Prisons