Pretrial Detention and Torture: Why Pretrial Detainees Face the Greatest Risk

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Torture and other ill-treatment are not aberrations; they are common—even routine—in many detention facilities around the world. And while it is often assumed that torture victims are likely to be political prisoners or suspected terrorists, most victims are ordinary people accused of ordinary crimes. In fact, it is pretrial detainees—people who have not been tried or found guilty—who are most at risk of torture.

Pretrial Detention and Torture: Why Pretrial Detainees Are Most at Risk looks at the practice of torture in pretrial detention, the systemic factors that leave pretrial detainees so vulnerable, and the safeguards that are needed to prevent this abhorrent practice. By combining policy analysis, firsthand accounts, and recommendations for reform, the report shows why pretrial detainees are so at risk of torture and what can be done to stop it.

It argues that torture can be deterred by steps including: holding perpetrators accountable; by refusing to admit evidence gained through torture; by allowing prisoners early access to legal counsel; and providing for independent oversight of detention facilities.