Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Places of Detention

The use of force in places of detention, including prisons, juvenile justice settings, police cells, psychiatric institutions and immigration detention facilities, raises serious and complex human rights concerns. While prison staff and other officials may need to use force in certain situations, excessive or unnecessary force can violate the fundamental rights of individuals in their care.

The use of excessive force in places of detention is a persistent issue globally. The prioritisation of coercive methods over management practices that seek to prevent violence has grave consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in our societies, disproportionately impacting racialised groups, individuals with disabilities, children from marginalised socio-economic backgrounds and members of the LGBTIQA+ community. This can cause:

  • Physical and psychological harm to individuals, including long-term trauma, frequently constituting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • A climate of fear and silence, hindering rehabilitation and reintegration of people who are detained.
  • Escalating violence in places of detention, leading increased insecurity for those deprived of their liberty and a higher incidence of assaults on custodial staff.

We strive to create safer, more just environments for people deprived of their liberty, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

We work towards this goal by:

  • Empowering Detention Monitors: We provide training and resources to equip independent monitors with the knowledge and tools to effectively observe and report on the use of force places of detention. This includes identifying weapons and other equipment, documenting their use and understanding international human rights standards.
  • Advocating for Change: We promote legislative and policy reform to prevent the misuse of force in prisons. We work alongside civil society organisations, policymakers and judicial authorities to establish clear guidelines and robust oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure the safety and dignity of all prisoners.

Reports

Resources

Guidlines for Documentation of Injuries from Policing Weapons and Equipment
Guidelines for documenting injuries from policing weapons and equipment (Brazilian Portuguese)
Available languages: Portuguese
Pocket guide to monitoring places of detention
A pocket guide reference to accompany the Practical Guide to Monitoring Places of Detention
Practical Guide to monitoring places of detention
A guide to help people monitoring places of detention identify and document policing weapons and equipment.