Solitary confinement

Key elements

Solitary confinement consists in keeping an inmate alone in a cell for over 22 hours a day. 
Because of the harmful effect on the person’s physical and mental well-being, solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances. It should be strictly supervised and used only for a limited period of time.

Under certain circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture.

Children, persons suffering from mental health disabilities, pregnant and nursing women, or women detained with their children should never be subjected to solitary confinement.

Analysis

Solitary confinement is used with have different purposes: as a disciplinary sanction, during criminal investigations, to protect an individual, or to prevent situations of risk.

Whatever the reason for resorting to solitary confinement, its consequences can be severe for persons subjected to it and such measure must therefore be strictly regulated.

Solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure

Solitary confinement may be used as a disciplinary sanction, but it must be restricted to the most serious disciplinary offenses.

Due to its effects on the physical and mental health of individuals, solitary confinement should be limited (never more than 15 days) and procedural rules should help prevent all abusive and/or arbitrary use of such sanction.

Solitary confinement in relation to a criminal investigation

An accused person may be placed in solitary confinement to secure the criminal investigation. Such measure is used to limit contact with witnesses, accomplices or victims, and to avoid prejudicing the integrity of the proceedings.

In such cases, a magistrate must regularly review the reasons justifying this special regime, there must be a possibility to appeal the measure, and confinement must come to an end when there is no longer any justification for it. Long criminal investigations cannot justify indeterminate solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement as a protection measure

The authorities may exceptionally have to place a person in solitary confinement to protect the detainee from the risk of violence from other inmates. The consent of the person concerned is then required. Placement in solitary confinement should also be possible at the request of a person under threat.

Solitary confinement should not be seen by the authorities as a long-lasting and satisfactory solution to address specific situations where detainees are at risk. On the contrary, authorities should take all preventive measures (such as detailed classification of inmate or instituting “dynamic security”) and all corrective measures (such as reallocation of cells and/or wings or promotion of peaceful settlements of disputes) to avoid the use of solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement as a means of protection may be reuiqred when a detainee is threatened because of his/her ethnic background or religion, political views, sexual orientation or gender identity, or any other reason. In such situations, the informed consent of the person is always required.

Solitary confinement used as a detention regime

Solitary confinement must not be used as a detention regime for certain categories of individuals considered particularly dangerous (alleged members of terrorist or criminal groups) or difficult to handle manage (people suffering from mental health disorders).

High security or "supermax" prisons apply very strict detention regimes, where detainees are subjected to particularly prolonged solitary confinement (isolated in their cells 23 hours per day, with very limited contact with the staff and the other detainees). Such systems lead to severe consequences for the health of detainees.

Risks

Whatever the reasons behind the use of solitary confinement, there are indisputable risks to people who are subject to this measure because of its effect on their physical and mental health. Psychotic troubles, anxiety, depression, anger, paranoia and self–mutilation are among the reported effects.

These effects can be particularly severe or even irreversible, especially when solitary confinement exceeds15 days.

Supervision and safeguards

The use of solitary confinement must be strictly regulated and offer solid safeguards, including limitation in time to at least mitigate its negative effects. Whenever solitary confinement lasts more than a few hours there should be controls in place to avoid any systematic and/or discriminatory use of the measure.

Once the measure is decided upon, the person concerned must be promptly informed of the decision. The detainee must be able to challenge this decision through an internal complaints system or using legal recourse. The person concerned has the right to a lawyer.

To reduce the negative effects of solitary confinement, contacts with families, fellow inmates and chaplains must be maintained.

Measures should also be taken by the authorities to ensure that the material conditions in solitary are equivalent to conditions within the rest of the institution. In the event of disciplinary confinement, accommodation may be more limited, but must meet international standards, particularly regarding the size of cells, access to light, toilets, fresh air and the ability to exercise.

Certain categories of particularly vulnerable detainees such as children, pregnant women, nursing women, women detained with young children and people with mental disabilities should never be subjected to solitary confinement.

The role of medical personnel

Prison doctors and nurses must not be involved in the decision-making process leading to solitary confinement so as not to undermine the relationship between the medical personnel and the inmate/patient. However, they have a particularly important role to play when it comes to monitoring the effects of confinement on the physical and mental health of the detainees subjected to it and in keeping the prison authorities informed about their condition.

In any case, detainees held in solitary confinement should be seen by medical personnel at least once a day.

Legal standards (12)

Questions for monitors (15)

Is the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure limited to the most serious offenses?

When solitary confinement is used as a protective measure, is the person’s consent required?

Can a detainee who feels threatened ask to be temporarily placed in solitary confinement for his/her own protection?

Are certain categories of detainees discriminately subjected to solitary confinement?

Who decides upon placement in solitary confinement and upon the duration of the measure?

Are some detainees subjected to solitary confinement on the sole basis of their sexual orientation?

What are the procedural safeguards in place for persons subjected to solitary confinement?

Are children subjected to solitary confinement?

Are detainees with mental disabilities subjected to solitary confinement?

Are detainees with mental disabilities subjected to solitary confinement?

Are pregnant women, nursing women or women detained with young children subjected to solitary confinement?

Is medical staff at the prison involved in the decision to place a person in solitary confinement?

Is there regular medical supervision for detainees in solitary confinement? If so, what is the frequency?

What are the conditions of the cells used for solitary confinement?

Are access to services and activities (such as health care, sport, etc.) and contact with the outside world limited for persons subjected to solitary confinement?

Further reading (11)

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Solitary confinement

Key elements

Solitary confinement consists in keeping an inmate alone in a cell for over 22 hours a day. 
Because of the harmful effect on the person’s physical and mental well-being, solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances. It should be strictly supervised and used only for a limited period of time.

Under certain circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture.

Children, persons suffering from mental health disabilities, pregnant and nursing women, or women detained with their children should never be subjected to solitary confinement.

Analysis Print

Solitary confinement is used with have different purposes: as a disciplinary sanction, during criminal investigations, to protect an individual, or to prevent situations of risk.

Whatever the reason for resorting to solitary confinement, its consequences can be severe for persons subjected to it and such measure must therefore be strictly regulated.

Solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure

Solitary confinement may be used as a disciplinary sanction, but it must be restricted to the most serious disciplinary offenses.

Due to its effects on the physical and mental health of individuals, solitary confinement should be limited (never more than 15 days) and procedural rules should help prevent all abusive and/or arbitrary use of such sanction.

Solitary confinement in relation to a criminal investigation

An accused person may be placed in solitary confinement to secure the criminal investigation. Such measure is used to limit contact with witnesses, accomplices or victims, and to avoid prejudicing the integrity of the proceedings.

In such cases, a magistrate must regularly review the reasons justifying this special regime, there must be a possibility to appeal the measure, and confinement must come to an end when there is no longer any justification for it. Long criminal investigations cannot justify indeterminate solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement as a protection measure

The authorities may exceptionally have to place a person in solitary confinement to protect the detainee from the risk of violence from other inmates. The consent of the person concerned is then required. Placement in solitary confinement should also be possible at the request of a person under threat.

Solitary confinement should not be seen by the authorities as a long-lasting and satisfactory solution to address specific situations where detainees are at risk. On the contrary, authorities should take all preventive measures (such as detailed classification of inmate or instituting “dynamic security”) and all corrective measures (such as reallocation of cells and/or wings or promotion of peaceful settlements of disputes) to avoid the use of solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement as a means of protection may be reuiqred when a detainee is threatened because of his/her ethnic background or religion, political views, sexual orientation or gender identity, or any other reason. In such situations, the informed consent of the person is always required.

Solitary confinement used as a detention regime

Solitary confinement must not be used as a detention regime for certain categories of individuals considered particularly dangerous (alleged members of terrorist or criminal groups) or difficult to handle manage (people suffering from mental health disorders).

High security or "supermax" prisons apply very strict detention regimes, where detainees are subjected to particularly prolonged solitary confinement (isolated in their cells 23 hours per day, with very limited contact with the staff and the other detainees). Such systems lead to severe consequences for the health of detainees.

Risks

Whatever the reasons behind the use of solitary confinement, there are indisputable risks to people who are subject to this measure because of its effect on their physical and mental health. Psychotic troubles, anxiety, depression, anger, paranoia and self–mutilation are among the reported effects.

These effects can be particularly severe or even irreversible, especially when solitary confinement exceeds15 days.

Supervision and safeguards

The use of solitary confinement must be strictly regulated and offer solid safeguards, including limitation in time to at least mitigate its negative effects. Whenever solitary confinement lasts more than a few hours there should be controls in place to avoid any systematic and/or discriminatory use of the measure.

Once the measure is decided upon, the person concerned must be promptly informed of the decision. The detainee must be able to challenge this decision through an internal complaints system or using legal recourse. The person concerned has the right to a lawyer.

To reduce the negative effects of solitary confinement, contacts with families, fellow inmates and chaplains must be maintained.

Measures should also be taken by the authorities to ensure that the material conditions in solitary are equivalent to conditions within the rest of the institution. In the event of disciplinary confinement, accommodation may be more limited, but must meet international standards, particularly regarding the size of cells, access to light, toilets, fresh air and the ability to exercise.

Certain categories of particularly vulnerable detainees such as children, pregnant women, nursing women, women detained with young children and people with mental disabilities should never be subjected to solitary confinement.

The role of medical personnel

Prison doctors and nurses must not be involved in the decision-making process leading to solitary confinement so as not to undermine the relationship between the medical personnel and the inmate/patient. However, they have a particularly important role to play when it comes to monitoring the effects of confinement on the physical and mental health of the detainees subjected to it and in keeping the prison authorities informed about their condition.

In any case, detainees held in solitary confinement should be seen by medical personnel at least once a day.

Legal standards (12) Print

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 7

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (…).

Article 10-1

All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)

Rule 38.2

For prisoners who are, or have been, separated, the prison administration shall take the necessary measures to alleviate the potential detrimental effects of their confinement on them and on their community following their release from prison.

Rule 43.1

In no circumstances may restrictions or disciplinary sanctions amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The following practices, in particular, shall be prohibited:
  (a) Indefinite solitary confinement;
  (b) Prolonged solitary confinement;
  (c) Placement of a prisoner in a dark or constantly lit cell;
  (d) Corporal punishment or the reduction of a prisoner’s diet or drinking water;
  (e) Collective punishment.

Rule 44

For the purpose of these rules, solitary confinement shall refer to the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact. Prolonged solitary confinement shall refer to solitary confinement for a time period in excess of 15 consecutive days.

Rule 45.1

Solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review, and only pursuant to the authorization by a competent authority. It shall not be imposed by virtue of a prisoner’s sentence.

Rule 45.2

The imposition of solitary confinement should be prohibited in the case of prisoners with mental or physical disabilities when their conditions would be exacerbated by such measures. The prohibition of the use of solitary confinement and similar measures in cases involving women and children, as referred to in other United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, continues to apply.

Rule 46

1. Health-care personnel shall not have any role in the imposition of disciplinary sanctions or other restrictive measures. They shall, however, pay particular attention to the health of prisoners held under any form of involuntary separation, including by visiting such prisoners on a daily basis and providing prompt medical assistance and treatment at the request of such prisoners or prison staff.

2. Health-care personnel shall report to the prison director, without delay, any adverse effect of disciplinary sanctions or other restrictive measures on the physical or mental health of a prisoner subjected to such sanctions or measures and shall advise the director if they consider it necessary to terminate or alter them for physical or mental health reasons.

3. Health-care personnel shall have the authority to review and recommend changes to the involuntary separation of a prisoner in order to ensure that such separation does not exacerbate the medical condition or mental or physical disability of the prisoner.

UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules)

Rule 22

Punishment by close confinement or disciplinary segregation shall not be applied to pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers in prison. 

Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, A/66/268,August 2011

Paragraph 26

Solitary confinement is also known as “segregation”, “isolation”,“separation”, "cellular”,“lockdown”, “Supermax”, “the hole” or “Secure Housing Unit (SHU)”, but all these terms can involve different factors. For the purposes of this report, the Special Rapporteur defines solitary confinement as the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Of particular concern to the Special Rapporteur is prolonged solitary confinement, which he defines as any period of solitary confinement in excess of 15 days. He is aware of the arbitrary nature of the effort to establish a moment intime which an already harmful regime becomes prolonged and therefore unacceptably painful. He concludes that 15 days is the limit between “solitary confinement” and “prolonged solitary confinement” because at that point, according to the literature surveyed, some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.

Paragraphs 84-89

84. The Special Rapporteur urges States to prohibit the imposition of solitary confinement as punishment — either as a part of a judicially imposed sentence or a disciplinary measure. He recommends that States develop and implement alternative disciplinary sanctions to avoid the use of solitary confinement.

85. States should take necessary steps to put an end to the practice of solitary confinement in pretrial detention. The use of solitary confinement as an extortion technique during pretrial detention should be abolished.

86. States should abolish the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and persons with mental disabilities. Regarding disciplinary measures for juveniles, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States should take other measures that do not involve the use of solitary confinement. In regard to the use of solitary confinement for persons with mental disabilities, the Special Rapporteur emphasizes that physical segregation of such persons may be necessary in some cases for their own safety, but solitary confinement should be strictly prohibited. 

87. Indefinite solitary confinement should be abolished.

88. It is clear that short-term solitary confinement can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; it can, however, be a legitimate device in other circumstances, provided that adequate safeguards are in place. In the opinion of the Special Rapporteur, prolonged solitary confinement, in excess of 15 days, should be subject to an absolute prohibition.

89. The Special Rapporteur reiterates that solitary confinement should be used only in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible. He emphasizes that when solitary confinement is used in exceptional circumstances, minimum procedural safeguards must be followed.

Paragraph 86

86. States should abolish the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and persons with mental disabilities. Regarding disciplinary measures for juveniles, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States should take other measures that do not involve the use of solitary confinement. In regard to the use of solitary confinement for persons with mental disabilities, the Special Rapporteur emphasizes that physical segregation of such persons may be necessary in some cases for their own safety, but solitary confinement should be strictly prohibited. 

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, A/HRC/28/68, 5 March 2015

Paragraph 44

In many States, solitary confinement is still imposed on children as a disciplinary or “protective” measure. National legislation often contains provisions to permit children to be placed in solitary confinement. The permitted time frame and practices vary between days, weeks and even months. In accordance with views of the Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Special Rapporteur is of the view that the imposition of solitary confinement, of any duration, on children constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or even torture (see A/66/268, paras. 77 and 86, and A/68/295, para. 61).

Paragraph 86

With regard to conditions during detention, the Special Rapporteur calls upon all States:

(d) To prohibit solitary confinement of any duration and for any purpose

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, A/HRC/31/57, 5 January 2016

Paragraph 22

Solitary confinement can amount to torture or ill-treatment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, for prolonged periods or indefinitely and on juveniles. Solitary confinement of any duration must never be imposed on juveniles, or persons with mental or physical disabilities, or on pregnant and breastfeeding women, or mothers with young children. (A/66/268). Its use as a measure of retaliation against women who have complained of sexual abuse or other harmful treatment must also be prohibited. Female prisoners subjected to solitary confinement suffer particularly grave consequences as it tends to retraumatize victims of abuse and women suffering from mental health problems. It places women at greater risk of physical and sexual abuse by prison staff and severely limits family visits.

Paragraph 35

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender detainees report higher rates of sexual, physical and psychological violence in detention than on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity than the general prison population (CAT/C/CRI/CO/2). Violence against these persons in custodial settings, whether by police, other law enforcement authorities, prison staff or other prisoners, is prevalent (A/HRC/29/23). Fear of reprisals and a lack of trust in the complaints mechanisms frequently prevent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in custody from reporting abuses. Their placement in solitary confinement or administrative segregation for their own “protection” can constitute an infringement on the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. Authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent and combat violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender detainees by other detainees.

Paragraph 70

With regard to women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in detention, the Special Rapporteur calls on all States to:

[...] (i) Absolutely prohibit the use of solitary confinement on pregnant and breastfeeding women, mothers with young children, women suffering from mental or physical disabilities and girls under 18 years of age and as a measure of “protection”; [...]

(t) Ensure that protective measures do not involve the imposition of more restrictive conditions on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons than on other detainees; [...]

Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Principle 9D

Everyone deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to each person’s dignity.

States shall:
d)     Put protective measures in place for all prisoners vulnerable to violence or abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that such protective measures involve no greater restriction of their rights than is experienced by the general prison population;

European Prison Rules

Rule 43.2

The medical practitioner or a qualified nurse reporting to such a medical practitioner shall pay particular attention to the health of prisoners held under conditions of solitary confinement, shall visit such prisoners daily, and shall provide them with prompt medical assistance and treatment at the request of such prisoners or the prison staff.

Rule 43.3

The medical practitioner shall report to the director whenever it is considered that a prisoner's physical or mental health is being put seriously at risk by continued imprisonment or by any condition of imprisonment, including conditions of solitary confinement.

Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas

Principle XXII-3

The law shall prohibit solitary confinement in punishment cells.

It shall be strictly forbidden to impose solitary confinement to pregnant women; mothers who are living with their children in the place of deprivation of liberty; and children deprived of liberty.

Solitary confinement shall only be permitted as a disposition of last resort and for a strictly limited time, when it is evident that it is necessary to ensure legitimate interests relating to the institution’s internal security, and to protect fundamental rights, such as the right to life and integrity of persons deprived of liberty or the personnel.

In all cases, the disposition of solitary confinement shall be authorized by the competent authority and shall be subject to judicial control, since its prolonged, inappropriate or unnecessary use would amount to acts of torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

In cases of involuntary seclusion of persons with mental disabilities it shall be ensured that the measure is authorized by a competent physician; carried out in accordance with officially approved procedures; recorded in the patient’s individual medical record; and immediately notified to their family or legal representatives. Persons with mental disabilities who are secluded shall be under the care and supervision of qualified medical personnel.
 

Principle XXII-3

It shall be strictly forbidden to impose solitary confinement to pregnant women; mothers who are living with their children in the place of deprivation of liberty; and children deprived of liberty. 

Principle XXII-3

In cases of involuntary seclusion of persons with mental disabilities it shall be ensured that the measure is authorized by a competent physician; carried out in accordance with officially approved procedures; recorded in the patient’s individual medical record; and immediately notified to their family or legal representatives. Persons with mental disabilities who are secluded shall be under the care and supervision of qualified medical personnel. 

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture

CPT/Inf (2011) 28 - para 55

55. Solitary confinement further restricts the already highly limited rights of
people deprived of their liberty. The extra restrictions involved are not inherent in the fact of imprisonment and thus have to be separately justified. In order to test whether any particular imposition of the measure is justified, it is appropriate to apply the traditional tests enshrined in the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and developed by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The simple mnemonic PLANN summarises these tests.

(a) Proportionate: (…) Given that solitary confinement is a serious restriction of a prisoner’s rights which involves inherent risks to the prisoner, the level of actual or potential harm must be at least equally serious and uniquely capable of being addressed by this means. This is reflected, for example, in most countries having solitary confinement as a sanction only for the most serious disciplinary offences, but the principle must be respected in all uses of the measure. The longer the measure is continued, the stronger must be the reason for it and the more must be done to ensure that it achieves its purpose.

b) Lawful: provision must be made in domestic law for each kind of solitary
confinement which is permitted in a country, and this provision must be reasonable. It must be communicated in a comprehensible form to everyone who may be subject to it. The law should specify the precise circumstances in which each form of solitary confinement can be imposed, the persons who may impose it, the procedures to be followed by those persons, the right of the prisoner affected to make representations as part of the procedure, the requirement to give the prisoner the fullest possible reasons for the decision (it being understood that there might in certain cases be reasonable justification for withholding specific details on security-related grounds or in order to protect the interests of third parties), the frequency and procedure of reviews of the decision and the procedures for appealing against the decision. The regime for each type of solitary confinement should be established by law, with each of the regimes clearly differentiated from each other.

(c) Accountable: full records should be maintained of all decisions to impose
solitary confinement and of all reviews of the decisions. These records should
evidence all the factors which have been taken into account and the information on which they were based. There should also be a record of the prisoner’s input or refusal to contribute to the decision-making process. Further, full records should be kept of all interactions with staff while the prisoner is in solitary confinement, including attempts by staff to engage with the prisoner and the prisoner’s response.

(d) Necessary: the rule that only restrictions necessary for the safe and orderly confinement of the prisoner and the requirements of justice are permitted applies equally to prisoners undergoing solitary confinement. Accordingly, during solitary confinement there should, for example, be no automatic withdrawal of rights to visits, telephone calls and correspondence or of access to resources normally available to prisoners (such as reading materials). Equally, the regime should be flexible enough to permit relaxation of any restriction which is not necessary in individual cases.

(e) Non-discriminatory: not only must all relevant matters be taken into account in deciding to impose solitary confinement, but care must also be taken to ensure that irrelevant matters are not taken into account. Authorities should monitor the use of all forms of solitary confinement to ensure that they are not used disproportionately, without an objective and reasonable justification, against a particular prisoner or particular groups of prisoners.

CPT/Inf(2011) 28 - para 55

(e) Non-discriminatory: not only must all relevant matters be taken into account in deciding to impose solitary confinement, but care must also be taken to ensure that irrelevant matters are not taken into account. Authorities should monitor the use of all forms of solitary confinement to ensure that they are not used disproportionately, without an objective and reasonable justification, against a particular prisoner or particular groups of prisoners.

24th General Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture

Paragraph 128

Any form of isolation of juveniles is a measure that can compromise their physical and/or mental well-being and should therefore be applied only as a means of last resort. In the CPT's view, solitary confnement as a disciplinary measure should only be imposed for very short periods and under no circumstances for more than three days. Whenever juveniles are subject to such a measure, they should be provided with socio-educational support and appropriate human contact. A member of the health-care staf should visit the juvenile immediately after placement and thereafter on a regular basis, at least once per day, and provide him/her with prompt medical assistance and treatment.

Paragraph 129

As regards solitary confnement for protection or preventive purposes, the CPT recognises that such a measure may, in extremely rare cases, be required in order to protect particularly vulnerable juveniles or to prevent serious risks to the safety of others or the security of the prison, provided that absolutely no other solution can be found. Every such measure should be decided by a competent authority, based on a clear procedure specifying the nature of the confnement, its duration, the grounds on which it may be imposed and providing a regular review process, as well as the possibility for the juvenile concerned to appeal against the decision Juveniles deprived of their liberty under criminal legislation to an independent external authority. The juveniles concerned should always be provided with appropriate human contact and beneft from daily visits by a member of the health-care staff.

Likewise, the placement of a violent and/or agitated juvenile in a calming-down room should be a highly exceptional measure. Any such measure should not last for more than a few hours and should never be used as an informal punishment. Mechanical restraint should never be used in this context. Every placement of a juvenile in a calming-down room should be immediately brought to the attention of a doctor in order to allow him/her to look after the health-care needs of the juvenile concerned. In addition, every such placement should be recorded in a central register as well as in the juvenile's individual file.

Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa

25. Procedural and other safeguards

States should have in place, and make known, laws, policies and standard operating procedures, which accord with Member States’ obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international law and standards, to:

f. Ensure that the use of solitary confinement is restricted, and that methods to anticipate crisis situations and de-escalate them without the need to resort to seclusion, restraint or forced treatment are developed and ingrained among law enforcement personnel.

32. Women

b. Safeguards for arrest and detention

If arrest, custody and pre-trial detention is absolutely necessary, women and girls shall:

Not be subject to close confinement or disciplinary segregation if pregnant, breastfeeding or accompanied by infants.

Questions for monitors (15) Print

Is the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure limited to the most serious offenses?

When solitary confinement is used as a protective measure, is the person’s consent required?

Can a detainee who feels threatened ask to be temporarily placed in solitary confinement for his/her own protection?

Are certain categories of detainees discriminately subjected to solitary confinement?

Who decides upon placement in solitary confinement and upon the duration of the measure?

Are some detainees subjected to solitary confinement on the sole basis of their sexual orientation?

What are the procedural safeguards in place for persons subjected to solitary confinement?

Are children subjected to solitary confinement?

Are detainees with mental disabilities subjected to solitary confinement?

Are detainees with mental disabilities subjected to solitary confinement?

Are pregnant women, nursing women or women detained with young children subjected to solitary confinement?

Is medical staff at the prison involved in the decision to place a person in solitary confinement?

Is there regular medical supervision for detainees in solitary confinement? If so, what is the frequency?

What are the conditions of the cells used for solitary confinement?

Are access to services and activities (such as health care, sport, etc.) and contact with the outside world limited for persons subjected to solitary confinement?

Further reading (11) Print