Instruments of restraint enable a person’s freedom of movement to be restricted or prevented. Penal authorities may only resort to them for a limited period of time in specific situations, which are clearly identified and recognised as being legal.
In no case may methods of restraint be used as a disciplinary sanction.
Methods of restraint may be used in two main situations:
- to prevent the risk of escape during transfers of detainees. In this type of situation (court appearance, hospitalisation, transfer to another establishment or removal of a detainee in anticipation of him/her being sent to a third country) the least incapacitating methods of restraint (handcuffs, straps, belts) must be used.
- to prevent physical assaults on other detainees or members of staff or on the security of buildings, or to prevent acts of self-harm. In these situations, the authorities may have cause to use more incapacitating methods of restraint (straitjackets, restraining beds, medical sedation).
Whatever the situation, the use of physical methods of restraint must be undertaken as a last resort, in an exceptional manner and for a limited duration. Moreover, the more incapacitating the technique used, the stronger must be the guarantees surrounding the reasons and methods of use.