Meeting with representatives of OSCE/ODIHR and UN SPT

On Tuesday, 21 February representatives of the Ombudsman’s office met with representatives of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT). The meeting was held within the framework of the ODIHR and SPT joint project, the aim of which is to strengthen the OPCAT system in the OSCE region. Among their activities, they are organising dialogues in countries that have recently ratified OPCAT and have a national preventive mechanism (NPM) in place or are still in the process of establishing an NPM.

The representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office informed the guests about the mandate of the preventive mechanism and the functions of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia. The system of visits to such closed institutions as prisons, short-term detention facilities, accommodation facilities for detained foreigners, long-term social care and social rehabilitation institutions for seniors (nursing homes) and children, psychiatric hospitals and boarding schools was discussed.

During the meeting, importance of cooperation with various institutions and organisations to prevent the risks of ill-treatment was emphasised. The participants discussed good practice examples of informing the public about preventive work and the recommendations of the Ombudsman, as well as the importance of educating the public, including young people.

Latvia was the 91st country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 10 December 2021 (in force since 9 January 2022). In Latvia, a rather unique situation had formed, as the national preventive mechanism was established before the ratification of the OPCAT.