According to article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This prohibition is considered an absolute human right and a principal value of a democratic society, and deviations are not allowed in a state based on the rule of law. The right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has been also been reflected in both global and regional international documents on human rights, in addition to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. This right has been established in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, according to § 18 (1) of which no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
On 01.06.2002, Estonia joined the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that was accepted in the UN on 10.12.1984 and entered into force on 26.06.1987. The aim of this convention is to fight torture all over the world.
On 18.12.2002, the UN accepted the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Republic of Estonia signed this protocol on 21.09.2004 and it entered into force for Estonia on 27.11.2006.
According to this protocol, each Member State shall designate or establish at least one independent national preventive mechanism for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment at the domestic level with the aim of examining the activity of places of detention based on this objective. In Estonia, this institution is the Chancellor of Justice.
- to regularly examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in places of detention, with a view to strengthening, if necessary, their protection against ill-treatment;
- to make recommendations to the relevant authorities with the aim of improving the treatment and the conditions of the persons deprived of their liberty and to prevent ill-treatment, taking into consideration the relevant norms of the United Nations;
- to submit proposals and observations concerning existing or draft legislation.