Global guidance on monitoring places of detention during the COVID-19 pandemic – a practical tool

Preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic within places of detention poses significant dilemmas to the responsible authorities in terms of protecting public health while also respecting and fulfilling the rights of detainees.

Therefore, there is an increased need for effective and independent oversight to ensure that the risk of ill-treatment is mitigated and addressed appropriately by detaining authorities.

Despite this increased need, preventive monitoring bodies are challenged in novel ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. As regular visits are, in many places, not possible and new issues are emerging in detention, there is a great need and potential for alternative and effective ways to monitor the conditions and treatment of people detained.

This document aims to offer a practical tool gathering international and regional recommendations for monitoring bodies, highlighting what to monitor and how to monitor. This document is also informed by DIGNITY’s extensive expertise gained through monitoring places of detention in Denmark, working with monitoring bodies in several regions (MENA, Africa, Asia) and membership in international bodies working against torture (UN Committee Against Torture, CoE Committee for the Prevention of Torture).

The purpose of this document is to support DIGNITY partners and other monitoring bodies in delivering their preventive mandate during this pandemic. To do so, it outlines states’ obligations regarding preventive monitoring, general recommendations to monitoring bodies, issues to monitor and methodological considerations.