Many governments have responded to or exploited heightened concern about terrorism by detaining people without the usual safeguards that are due to anyone deprived of their liberty.
These safeguards include telling detainees why they have been detained and telling their families where they are being held. Detainees should also have access to a lawyer and should be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. They should not be held in a secret place of detention.
This serious violation of human rights can result in people languishing in prison for years without trial and without being able to see the evidence against them, with no way to challenge their detention.
In cases of enforced disappearance, people’s fate or whereabouts is concealed completely, leaving their relatives unsure whether they are dead or alive. Those who have disappeared remain outside the protection of the law and at risk of other serious human rights violations.
Unlawful detention leaves people at heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are always wrong and are absolutely prohibited under international law.
Amnesty International’s Security with Human Rights campaign will:
- Work to expose and end the use of unlawful detention in the name of national security or countering terrorism
- Campaign for an end to enforced disappearances
- Demand that governments respect the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment
A ‘lawless law’: Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act report (March 2011)
New order, same abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq report (September 2010)