Files and records

Key Elements

There are different types of records kept in prisons, and each performs a particular function. The office register and/or the prison records, the daily log (that contains all information linked to daily life in the establishment) as well as individual detainee files are essential documents in order to prevent abuse and ill-treatment as well as prevent from enforced disappearances. Medical records are fundamental in determining how allegations of ill-treatment are dealt with and processed and to generally evaluate detainees’ medical care. Disciplinary records also serve as important safeguards in terms of preventing violations of basic human rights and ensuring proper care of detained persons.

Well-kept records that contain the kind of information required for the effective protection of detainees’ rights also contribute to efficient management of places of detention and better individual care. Personnel should be trained to be able to process the information, and keep records, as well as be kept informed of the purpose of these records. Such training should include consideration for the respect of people’s privacy.

Types of records and their degree of sophistication can vary considerably from one place to another but a lack of resources should never justify an absence or badly kept records. More and more countries have turned to computerised records allowing better tracking and optimised data processing but this raises questions about access, storage and information traceability.