Pre-trial detainees

A key safeguard for pre-trial detainees is the separation and independence of the authorities responsible for the investigation from those responsible for the detention. Detention in police custody should be thus be short term, and detainees should be transferred to a detention facility as soon as it has been determined to keep them detained prior to their trial.

Pre-trial detainees should be held in separate facilities from convicted persons, and be treated with due regard to the presumption of innocence.


Women should be accommodated separately from men, either in a separate institution or a separated part of the institution, with female front-line staff. Personal searches of women should only be carried out by female staff.


Children should, as a rule, be detained in separate facilities from adults. In certain circumstances there may be exceptions to this rule, if being accommodated with an adult is in the best interest of the child. For example, it is possible in the best interest of the child to not be separated from their parent in immigration detention. However, children should never be accommodated with unrelated adults.

Facilities holding child detainees should have child-centered personnel, policies and practices.


View Relevant International Standards


UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Part 1, Separation of categories

8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment. Thus,

( a ) Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate;

( b ) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;

( c ) Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence;

( d ) Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.





Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, Principle XIX, Separation of categories

The different categories of persons deprived of freedom shall be kept in separate places of deprivation of liberty or in different sections within the same institution, taking account of their sex, age, the reason for their deprivation of liberty, the need to protect the life and integrity of persons deprived of liberty or personnel, special needs of attention, or other circumstances relating to internal security.

In particular, arrangements shall be made to separate men and women; children and adults; the elderly; accused and convicted; persons deprived of liberty for civil reasons and those deprived of liberty on criminal charges. In cases of deprivation of liberty of asylum or refugee status seekers, and in other similar cases, children shall not be separated from their parents. Asylum or refugee status seekers and persons deprived of liberty due to migration issues shall not be deprived of liberty in institutions designed to hold persons deprived of liberty on criminal charges.


European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Juveniles deprived of their liberty under criminal legislation, CPT/Inf(2015)1-part rev1


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