European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Factsheets are issued under the authority of the Executive Secretary of the CPT.
They aim to present the CPT’s standards on key issues. However, they do not claim to be exhaustive,
in particular as regards the references to CPT country visit reports.
Transport of detainees
Whatever the grounds for transferring persons deprived of their liberty from a place of
detention to another place (e.g. from a police station to a prison, from a prison to another
prison, a courthouse or a hospital, or from a border point of entry to an immigration
detention centre), the CPT considers that transportation should always be carried out in a
humane, secure and safe manner.
On a number of occasions, CPT delegations have inspected vehicles intended for the
transport of detainees, such as road and railway vehicles.1 They frequently found that
conditions were substandard or that basic safety requirements were not being met. The
Committee has also come across practices which called for criticism (e.g. overreliance on
means of restraint; unnecessarily long periods of confinement in prisoner transport vehicles).
In this context, the CPT has observed positive change in light of its recommendations
(e.g. decisions to put an end to the use of vehicles unsuitable for the transportation of
detainees; acquisition of new fleets of vehicles allowing transportation of detainees in
conditions advocated by the Committee; building of holding cells in courthouses in order to
avoid prolonged detention in prisoner transport vans).
This factsheet presents the CPT’s main standards on this subject which have been
developed over several decades. It covers the transport of persons in police custody,
prisoners and immigration detainees, whenever transportation is organised by law
enforcement, prison or other criminal justice services, or private contractors. It does not
cover transportation carried out by health-care services, and it is not intended to cover
transportation in the context of transfers of prisoners outside the national territory or
return operations by air or other means.
Finally, the standards presented in this factsheet should not be seen in isolation from
international instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the
relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe’s
European Prison Rules2 and European Rules for juvenile offenders subject to sanctions or
measures3, or the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
(“the Nelson Mandela Rules”4).
More rarely, CPT delegations have inspected vessels/boats and aircrafts used for domestic transfers of prisoners.
Recommendation Rec(2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers adopted on 11 January 2006.
Recommendation Rec(2008)11 of the Committee of Ministers adopted on 5 November 2008.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/175 adopted on 17 December 2015.