Prevention of torture in detention

More than 10 million people are currently living behind bars around the world. Even more live behind locked doors in institutions such as police stations, psychiatric hospitals, military detention centers, asylum centers and (partly) refugee camps. It is often behind locked doors, out of sight, that torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment takes place. DIGNITY monitors the facilities, documents the abuse, and develops new interventions that can prevent and combat torture in detention.

Prevention in Denmark

We monitor Danish prisons, detention centers, closed psychiatric wards and centers in the asylum system. This is done in cooperation with the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The purpose of the visits is to ensure that the detainees are not subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. During the visits we focus on the use of force, disciplinary measures, solitary confinement and relations between prisoners and staff. The visits also have a preventive effect. They ensure that inmates and detainees know their rights and that staff are aware of any problems.

The Danish monitoring mechanism was established in 2009 under the Optional Protocol to the UN Torture Convention: OPCAT.

Prevention abroad

We cooperate with local partners around the world to prevent and combat torture in detention and other places where people are deprived of their liberty. We cooperate with civil society organizations, state actors and research institutions. An important part of the work is to build up the capacity of civil society to keep their states accountable in accordance with national and international legislation and best practices in torture prevention.

Examples of interventions include the establishment and teaching of independent prison monitoring teams, training in medical and legal documentation of torture, criminal justice reform, coalition building, judicial training in international conventions and human rights standards, dissemination of knowledge about effective and legal investigation, and prison research.

Related projects

Torture Prevention in Sierra Leone

Through collaboration with an innovative grass-roots NGO with a regular presence in prisons and police stations and a strong national advocacy profile the project contributes to torture prevention and human rights protection in Sierra Leone.


Types of partners

Civil society organizations, incl. human rights defenders

National Human Rights Institutions

Universities and other research institutions and networks

National preventive mechanisms


Medical Associations

Ministries of Justice



We work in accordance with overall Danish strategies and policies on development, including Denmark's developmental and humanitarian strategy: World 2030, and the Danish-Arab Partnership Program (DAPP). We are also actively working on meeting global goals such as the UN's 17 Sustainability Goals, including sustainability goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

DIGNITY also helps to identify, develop and test several internationally recognized standards and guidelines for torture and detention, including:


DIGNITY and partners also produce own studies, manuals and guidelines that help to further the work of preventing and combating torture in detention.

DIGNITY's researchers have, among other things, been at the forefront of researching and disseminating knowledge about the research area "Prisons in the Global South" with several research articles and network-building.

Examples of these publications can be found here: