Contributions > Bronwyn Naylor

Bronwyn Naylor
RMIT University and Monash University

Efficacy and inefficiency of oversight bodies, accountability and transparency of penal and prison institutions in Australia


 ‘Monitoring to protect rights in detention: implementing the OPCAT in Australia’

 Australia has until recently shown limited interest in protecting the rights of people in detention through rights legislation. It has also tended to resist international critique of its practices, both in individual cases brought under treaties to which it is a signatory, and from agencies such as Amnesty International, and the UN as part of the UPR process. It has however recently taken the step of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), as of December 2017. This decision followed Australia’s successful bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and also the repercussions of the widely-condemned video recording of ill-treatment of young people in detention in the Northern Territory. As a federal state Australia faces the task of establishing a comprehensive network of monitoring bodies constituting the OPCAT NPM (National Preventive Mechanism), across nine jurisdictions and with a range of existing monitoring bodies with varying capacities. This article examines the process in which Australia is now engaged, of ensuring effective monitoring of the rights of people across all places of detention. The history of this implementation questions the efficacy and inefficacy of these quite new monitoring and judicial bodies charged with human rights violations, operational complexities and their independency from political authorities as the appointment of those new inspectorates are worked out in consultation with the states and territories. This article also sheds lights on accountability and transparency of these bodies charged themselves with improving accountability and transparency of the Australian penal and prison administrations.


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