Documenting torture technologies, less lethal weapons and restraints in detention: what, why and how?

Detailed safeguards and specialised institutions have been developed to tackle the circumstances in which torture occurs and to establish independent public oversight of places of detention. However, torture and ill-treatment are still widespread. The Omega Research Foundation, a UK-based research organisation, looks at the importance of independent monitors to document and monitor the use of weapons and […]

The Omega Research Foundation18th October 2017

From interrogating to interviewing suspects of terror: Towards a new mindset

Photo: The terrorist suspect being interviewed by Norwegian police. Provided with kind permission by the author. In 2011, ten years after a new approach of questioning criminal suspects was introduced in Norway called ‘Investigative Interviewing’, the country was struck by a terrorist attack which killed 77 people.  In the aftermath of the attack, Asbjørn Rachlew, […]

Asbjørn Rachlew14th March 2017

The Prison Rape Elimination Act and beyond: sexual violence in detention

In 2003, the U.S. passed a law called the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which for the first time mandated the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – an arm of the Department of Justice – to conduct anonymous surveys of prisoners about sexual abuse. These surveys have confirmed what reform advocates had long known – that abuse […]

Linda McFarlane, Jesse Lerner-Kinglake, Just Detention International9th November 2016

The added value of OPCAT ten years on

On 22 June it will be ten years since OPCAT – the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture – entered into force. In this expert blog for PRI, Professor Rachel Murray, Director of the Human Rights Implementation Centre at the University of Bristol (UK) asks what impact the treaty has had a decade […]

Rachel Murray22nd June 2016

Prison staff: overworked and underpaid?

Security, prisoner welfare and successful rehabilitation depend to a large degree on well trained prison staff. However, in many countries, the job is low status, badly paid, and recruits receive little training. Prison staffing is the subject of a special feature in PRI’s new Global Prison Trends report. Rob Allen sets out the main points for consideration […]

Rob Allen26th May 2016

Monitoring isolation and solitary confinement in the UK: inadequate procedures and informal practices need to be addressed

In this guest blog, Louise Finer, Coordinator of the UK’s National Preventative Mechanism, explains the findings from the NPM’s review of ‘isolation’ and ‘solitary confinement’ in detention. The NPM’s monitoring uncovered widespread practices that met the UN Mandela Rules internationally agreed definition of solitary confinement. On 1 December 2015, the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) […]

Louise Finer8th January 2016

Opening the steel door: how Colorado is reforming solitary confinement

Isolation from the rest of the prison population, whether as a disciplinary measure or for the ‘protection’ of vulnerable individuals, is used in most countries to different degrees. That solitary confinement can have a terrible impact on prisoners’ mental health, is however, now increasingly acknowledged by many people. Many are also questioning the wisdom of […]

Rick Raemisch, Colorado Dept of Corrections24th July 2015

Bringing the standards up to standard

The new and revised text of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR) drafted by the intergovernmental expert group (IEG) will be submitted for consideration at the 24th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (the UN Crime Commission) in Vienna this week. Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the Human Rights Centre at […]

Professor Nigel Rodley19th May 2015

Introducing a valuable new tool for detention monitors

The Association for the Prevention of Torture has recently launched a new database of international and regional standards, information, guidance and helpful tips to assist prison monitors as well as prison authorities and others engaged both in running and observing prisons. Here, APT’s Detention Advisor, Jean-Sébastien Blanc, explains why this resource is needed and what it offers […]

Jean-Sébastien Blanc, APT22nd April 2015