Access to external information

Key Elements

The right of detainees to access the outside world implies regular and meaningful access to news, information and entertainment that is freely available outside detention. Television, radio, newspapers, books and periodicals are all a means for detainees to stay in contact with developments in society, build or develop knowledge, skills or qualifications, or provide a diversion or relaxation during their time in detention. Maintaining this link through regular access to a range of mediums can be an important part of rehabilitation or preparing for release. Access may be restricted on disciplinary grounds but should be done for limited periods and in an open and transparent way.

Because of its high value to detainees there is a real risk that this right of access can be subject to unfair rules, corruption or stand over tactics by other detainees or prison authorities. There is also a risk that material that poses no security risk but has non-mainstream content (for example LGBTI material) can be subject to unwarranted censorship. Clear rules around access that are adhered to in practice are a means to help ensure detainees are able to fairly and adequately stay in touch with the outside world through access to external information.