Pretrial Detention and Torture: Why Pretrial Detainees face the Greatest Risk

Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are not aberrations. They are common—even routine—in many detention facilities. Of the nearly ten million people in detention (including both pretrial and post-conviction detainees) around the world, those held in pretrial detention are most at risk of torture.

Pretrial detainees are wholly in the power of detaining authorities, many of whom perceive torture as the fastest way to obtain information or a confession and the easiest way to exercise physical and mental control over detainees. The practice is exacerbated by indiscriminate arrests, primarily of poor people without the resources to extricate themselves from detention; criminal justice systems that rely on confessions rather than good policing; official corruption; and public acceptance of torture.