National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs)

National Preventive Mechanisms are the national component of the preventive system established by the OPCAT. 

NPMs are mandated to conduct regular visits to all types of places where persons are deprived of liberty. These visits should lead to recommendations to improve the protection of persons deprived of liberty. NPMs can also make comments on laws and regulations and propose reforms.

Every year, NPMs publish an annual report on their activities and torture prevention issues in their country.

NPMs could be a new, specialised body or an existing institution taking on the role (see NPM models). Most importantly, NPMs need to be independent, free from government influence and given sufficient resources to carry out their work effectively. They must also have the power to access all places of detention, without restriction, to access all information and to be able to talk with detained persons in private.

There are currently 68 designated NPMs. For more information, or links to public visit reports and annual reports of all NPMs, please check out our OPCAT Database.

NPMs complement the work of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and can have direct contacts with the SPT. Their permanent presence in a country enables them to conduct regular monitoring, and build a long term relationship with relevant authorities, based on trust and on-going dialogue. As domestic bodies, NPMs are best placed to propose concrete preventive measures which are adapted to the situation and challenges in the country.

Through their regular monitoring visits, NPMs are in a good position to identify early warnings signs, and thereby to prevent abuses in places of detention.

"The National Preventive Mechanisms are those who give the OPCAT strength, direction, momentum and hope to achieve its objectives." Elisabeth Odio Benito

VIDEO: Boubou Diouf Tall, Senegal's National Observer of Places of Deprivation of Liberty, on the experiences after the first year of operations of the NPM.