Safeguards to prevent torture

Detention safeguards have long been cited by experts as one of the most effective way to prevent torture and ill-treatment. In 2016, they were even recognised as having the highest impact in reducing the risk of torture and ill-treatment by the global independent research “Does torture prevention work?

Legal and procedural safeguards include measures such as:

  • prompt access to a lawyer,
  • notification of a relative,
  • access to a medical examination by an independent doctor, and
  • information on rights.

These need to be implemented in the first hours following arrest, when the risk of torture and ill-treatment is the greatest.

This animation video illustrates the key importance of non-coercive interviewing of suspects and the implementation of safeguards during the first hours of police custody. © APT/ATI, 2017.

Recognising the particularly high risk of torture and ill-treatment in these first hours, the APT is working to improve the implementation of procedural safeguards during police custody and pre-trial detention on three different levels:

1. Mobilising States to develop international guidelines on non-coercive interviews and attendant safeguards

The APT is contributing to build a momentum towards strengthening international standards on safeguards and capitalising on the Human Rights Council Resolution 31/31, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez’s last report to the UN General Assembly in October 2016, in which he called for the development of a universal protocol on safeguards and non-coercive interviews.

2. Accompanying partners to implement and monitor safeguards

3. Protecting rights by helping to implement concrete measures, such as custody hearings in Brazil