Balancing security and dignity in prisons: a framework for preventive monitoring

When a state deprives a person of their liberty, it incurs a duty of care to ensure that the dignity of that person is respected. States must also ensure that prisons are safe and secure for detainees, staff, visitors and the outside community. This paper aims to assist monitoring bodies, including National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), by providing them with an analytical framework to:

  • understand the concepts of dignity and security in prisons and the relationship between them;
  • identify situations where there is a particular risk that security in prisons is overemphasised to the detriment of the dignity of prisoners.

This paper is part of PRI/APT’s Detention Monitoring Tool, which aims to provide analysis and practical guidance to help monitoring bodies, including National Preventive Mechanisms, to fulfil their preventive mandate as effectively as possible when visiting police facilities or prisons. The tool seeks to support such bodies in addressing systemic risk factors that contribute to an environment where torture or other ill-treatment occurs.