Ensuring that all detainees have prompt access to a lawyer is a key safeguard of their rights in prison, whether they are in pre-trial detention or convicted of an offence. In addition to assisting criminal suspects to prepare their defense, the right to access a lawyer can help protect detainees’ rights by:
- Redressing the power imbalance between detainees and the authorities
- Assisting the detained person in understanding and exercising their rights
- Acting as a deterrence against torture and other ill-treatment
- Reducing the risk of arbitrary detention.
Prison authorities are responsible for providing adequate opportunities, time and facilities for detainees to be visited by, and confidentially communicate and consult with, a lawyer of their choice or one appointed to them by the state.