Annual Report on the Activities of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Poland in 2022
The 15th Annual Report of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture presents the activities in the reporting period from January 1 to December 31, 2022.
On 18 December last year, 20 years had passed since the adoption, by the UN General Assembly, of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
Thanks to the implementation of the OPCAT into the Polish legal system, the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (NMPT) has been operating in Poland for nearly 15 years already as part of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.
Between 1 January and 31 December 2022, ten staff members of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture conducted a total of 79 visits, including six carried out in the form of online monitoring at the time when direct contact was significantly difficult or impossible due to the epidemiological situation.
Reports of the NMPT not only describe cases of multiannual systemic negligence but also, in some situations, reveal likely gross violations of fundamental human rights. In particular, in the recent period, accounts of detainees disclosed possible cases of torture, including waterboarding and falaka (foot whipping), and of inhuman and degrading treatment. Without the NMPT monitoring visits, many of those cases might not have seen the light of day. This is because the NMPT representatives reach out to people whose voices are not heard, for whom it is difficult to assert their rights and who remain in difficult conditions. The stories described in the post-visit reports are the best proof of the strong need for an independent body monitoring places of detention in Poland.
Despite the low number of staff in 2022 the NMPT employees also draw up opinions on proposed amendments to laws and took part in parliamentary committee meetings at which they presented their comments and recommendations. They also took attempts to increase public awareness of the situation in places of detention and to applicable international standards.
in addition to drawing up reports and opinions, the NMPT attaches great importance to establishing a direct dialogue with officers and other staff members at places of detention. Training sessions, conferences and webinars for these professional groups were an excellent opportunity to present issues related to torture and ill-treatment prevention to them and to jointly seek solutions to existing systemic problems. In 2022, NMPT representatives trained over 130 police officers and conducted webinars for employees of social care homes, which were attended by over 420 persons.
The obligation to publish and disseminate annual reports of national preventive mechanisms stems from Article 23 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on December 18, 2002.