What does the SPT do?

The SPT meets at plenary session in Geneva, undertakes visits to OPCAT States Parties, assists States in the establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms and engages with the NPMs.


SPT members meet three times per year in Geneva, Switzerland. These sessions are usually held in February, June and November and mainly in private. During its sessions, the SPT adopts its working programme, prepares in-country missions, discusses follow-up and analyses information related to OPCAT States Parties and NPMs.

The SPT has developed the practice to meet with representatives of States Parties during its session, as well as with NPMs, international and regional organisations and civil society organisations. During its sessions, the SPT experts also discuss thematic issues to develop the working methods.

Country visits

The SPT can visit any State Party at any time and does not require an invitation. The list of States to be visited the following year is published in November. Exact dates of the visits are published a few months in advance.

There are two kinds of SPT in-country visits:

  • Longer in-country visits (up to ten days) to visits different places of detention; and
  • Shorter in-country visits (up to four days), which may focus on NPM developments or on follow-up to previous SPT visits.

At the end of a visit, the SPT issues a press release, with factual information on the delegation, the places of detention visited and the meetings held with national authorities, NPMs, NGOs etc.

Visit reports

Following an in-country mission, the SPT drafts a report presenting observations, analysis and recommendations on the places of detention visited, the establishment and functioning of the NPM and on prevention of torture more generally. The report is sent to the authorities that are expected to take position. When the SPT carries out an advisory visit to the NPM, the report is also sent to the NPM.

SPT’s visit reports are confidential, unless the State decides otherwise. SPT visit reports and State replies that have been made public are published here.

Advice to States and NPMs

An essential element of the SPT’s mandate is to provide advice to States Parties on the establishment of effective NPMs, and to support NPMs in their functioning. Shorter SPT in-country missions focusing on NPM developments are a new practical way to implement this advisory function. The SPT also interacts directly with NPMs during its sessions in Geneva and through letters and other communications. The SPT also produces guidance documents on the establishment and functioning of NPMs.

In addition to the planned programme of visits, SPT members participate in a number of activities related to OPCAT implementation, organised by international, regional and national actors, including the APT.