Lindsay Pearce leads publication of Croakey article on Australia’s OPCAT obligations to young people in detention

Justice Health Unit Research Fellow, Lindsay Pearce, along with co-authors Andreea Lachsz from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services (VALS) and Tiffany Overall from Youth Law, has published an article in Croakey on the importance of the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) for protecting the health, safety, and human rights of children and young people deprived of liberty in Australia.

OPCAT signifies a commitment from member states to establish independent monitoring bodies (called ‘National Preventive Mechanisms’ or NPMs) that can freely access places of detention, make recommendations, and engage in constructive dialogue with detaining authorities, to deliver the changes necessary to protect people deprived of liberty from harm, mistreatment, and human rights abuses.

After postponing its initial deadline to establish the NPM, from 2018 to 2022, and missing the latest deadline on 20 January of this year, Australia has been granted yet another one-year extension by the United Nations – to 20 January, 2023. The authors argue that this delay means another year that children and young people are left at risk in Australian detention facilities. They offer five recommendations to ensure OPCAT is appropriate to the needs of this population group. The full article dated 25 May 2022 is available here.

Lindsay also co-authored another article alongside Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS), published in the Law Institute Journal of Victoria, discussing the importance of culturally appropriate OPCAT implementation for improving health care quality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. It is available here.

Congratulations Lindsay on leading work in this much needed area.