Legal and procedural safeguards to prevent torture

Legal or procedural safeguards contribute concretely to reducing the risk of torture or ill-treatment. 

Basic legal and procedural safeguards should be guaranteed to all persons deprived of their liberty. It is good practice for basic legal and procedural safeguards to be written down in a law or even in the constitution or other bill of rights.

As the risk of torture and ill-treatment is higher during the first hours of deprivation of liberty, fundamental safeguards include, from the earliest moment:

  • notifying a family member or a third party,
  • having access to a lawyer and possibly to have the lawyer present during interrogation, and
  • having access to a medical doctor.

The detainee should be informed of these rights in a language that he or she can understand.

Other essential safeguards for torture prevention are:

  • the right to remain silent,
  • the right to be brought before a magistrate or judge within a reasonable period of time (for persons detained on a criminal charge), and
  • the right to challenge the legality of their detention and treatment.