European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CPT)

CPT/Inf(92)3-part1

Police custody
Extract from the 2nd General Report of the CPT,
published in 1992

36.
The CPT attaches particular importance to three rights for persons detained by the police:
the right of the person concerned to have the fact of his detention notified to a third party of his
choice (family member, friend, consulate), the right of access to a lawyer, and the right to request a
medical examination by a doctor of his choice (in addition to any medical examination carried out
by a doctor called by the police authorities).1 They are, in the CPT's opinion, three fundamental
safeguards against the ill-treatment of detained persons which should apply as from the very outset
of deprivation of liberty, regardless of how it may be described under the legal system concerned
(apprehension, arrest, etc).
37.
Persons taken into police custody should be expressly informed without delay of all their
rights, including those referred to in paragraph 36. Further, any possibilities offered to the
authorities to delay the exercise of one or other of the latter rights in order to protect the interests of
justice should be clearly defined and their application strictly limited in time. As regards more
particularly the rights of access to a lawyer and to request a medical examination by a doctor other
than one called by the police, systems whereby, exceptionally, lawyers and doctors can be chosen
from pre-established lists drawn up in agreement with the relevant professional organisations should
remove any need to delay the exercise of these rights.
38.
Access to a lawyer for persons in police custody should include the right to contact and to be
visited by the lawyer (in both cases under conditions guaranteeing the confidentiality of their
discussions) as well as, in principle, the right for the person concerned to have the lawyer present
during interrogation.
As regards the medical examination of persons in police custody, all such examinations
should be conducted out of the hearing, and preferably out of the sight, of police officers. Further,
the results of every examination as well as relevant statements by the detainee and the doctor's
conclusions should be formally recorded by the doctor and made available to the detainee and his
lawyer.

1

This right has subsequently been reformulated as follows: the right of access to a doctor, including the right to
be examined, if the person detained so wishes, by a doctor of his own choice (in addition to any medical examination
carried out by a doctor called by the police authorities).

Select target paragraph3