T O O L
UNCAT Implementation Tool 2/2017
SAFEGUARDS IN THE FIRST HOURS
OF POLICE DETENTION
Safeguards against torture and other forms of ill-treatment are rules and procedures that guide authorities to
protect persons in police detention. Safeguards are practical and cost-efficient solutions to prevent abuse in
custodial settings, where the risk of torture and other ill-treatment is highest.
This implementation tool describes how safeguards against torture in the first hours of police detention may
be used to help States parties to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) fulfil their obligations. While safeguards themselves are
not typically strict Convention obligations, they are practical solutions to challenges faced in the prevention
of torture and other ill-treatment during police detention. As such, safeguards help States fulfil various
international law obligations, including those described in articles 2, 11 and 16 of UNCAT, among others.
To be an effective protection against torture, each
safeguard must be implemented in a way that addresses
the particular risks of abuse in any particular country.
This tool provides examples to inspire good practices in
implementation and to help States recognise any “gaps” in
protection that still need to be addressed.
While the safeguards presented in this tool are effective
in protecting many persons in police detention, extra
measures may be necessary for persons with vulnerabilities
or who are at heightened risk, including children, women,
persons with disabilities, LGBTI, or any other reasons that
make persons in police detention particularly vulnerable.
States should consider whether and which extra measures
are needed to address particular vulnerabilities or risks.
It is well-known that the risk of torture
and other ill-treatment is significantly
greater during the first hours of police
custody. To prevent torture during this
heightened period of risk, safeguards
must be put in place and implemented in
practice…We call on every State to invest
in safeguards to prevent torture and
other forms of ill-treatment.”
Joint statement in 2017 by UN Special
Rapporteur on torture, Mr. Nils Melzer and
three former Special Rapporteurs on torture,
Mr. Juan Méndez, Mr. Manfred Nowak, and
Mr. Theo van Boven.
The CTI ‘UNCAT Implementation Tools’ are a series of practical tools designed to share good practices among States on the
implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
They offer thematic guidance and ideas for State practitioners and policymakers as they develop or revise context-specific strategies,
mechanisms and procedures to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment or punishment, and provide remedies for victims.