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Invitation to Quote – NPM Task and Finish Group: Defining deprivation of liberty

The UK NPM is inviting proposals for a short-term project to “stress test” definitions of deprivation of liberty.

The UK NPM is inviting proposals for a short-term project to “stress test” definitions of deprivation of liberty. The UK’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) was
established in March 2009 after the UK ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in December 2003. It is made up of 21 statutory bodies that independently monitor places of detention. OPCAT recognises that people deprived of their liberty are particularly vulnerable, and defines deprivation of liberty as

“any form of detention or imprisonment or the placement of a person in a public or private custodial setting which that person is not permitted to leave at will by order of any judicial, administrative or other authority.”

An NPM working group was formed to standardise understanding of what situations qualify as deprivation of liberty across the 21 members, for three primary reasons:

  • To clarify settings which sit at the “cusp” of obvious detention and whether these have adequate monitoring arrangements.
  • To have greater internal clarity on the meaning of detention/deprivation of liberty, with analysis grounded in international and domestic legal and human rights frameworks to support it.
  • To complement the 2024 publication of the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture’s (SPT) General Comment 1, on OPCAT Article 4 – the definition of deprivation of liberty. This document will assist states to interpret their obligations under OPCAT, and the UK NPM has contributed to the drafting. The UK NPM wishes to adopt an internal definition that complements the General Comment, and which adds further clarity for the UK context, bearing in mind the UK NPM’s unique multi-body model.

Having developed working definitions, the UK NPM is seeking an external expert to stress test the definitions to gain an understanding of where the threshold will apply. We will use this analysis to inform our final adoption.

Please review the full Invitation to Quote for more information and submit your quote by 29 January 2024.