Human Rights Committee adopts General Comment on Liberty and Security

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today the Human Rights Committee published its authoritative General Comment on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 9 of the Covenant recognizes and protects the liberty and security of persons, and requires States parties to introduce some of the most important procedural safeguards for all persons arrested or detained.

In line with its consolidated jurisprudence, the General Comment adopts an interpretation of detention including all forms of deprivation of liberty. Recognising that Article 9 includes some of the most fundamental safeguards against torture – to be brought before a judicial officer promptly after arrest and the right to challenge the lawfulness of detention – the Committee rejected a proposal advanced by some States to include the possibility of bringing the detainee in front of a judge (habeas corpus review) with the help of video conferencing. Rather, only the physical presence of the detainee ensures the effectiveness of such core safeguards.

In the General Comment, the Committee highlighted a number of key safeguards which reduce the risk of ill-treatment in detention:

  • Maintaining an accessible centralized official detention register;
  • providing regular access to medical personnel, lawyers and the relatives of detainees;
  • communicating the right to be promptly informed of rights in detention in a language that the detainee understand; and
  • the right to consular assistance for foreigners.

Download the General Comment no. 35.