Vulnerabilities in detention

When deprived of their liberty, some persons find themselves in a situation of particular vulnerability. Such groups include women, children, persons with disabilities, LGBTI-persons, migrants, elderly people and others. The specific needs of these persons are often neglected in places of detention, and responses are in most cases inappropriate.

Persons deprived of their liberty are vulnerable because of the unbalance of power created by the detention itself. But some people find themselves in situations of specific vulnerability – often because of the social context and of their status in society. These groups are not necessarily vulnerable per se, but become vulnerable in detention. This is why we speak of “situations of vulnerability” rather than “vulnerable groups”.

More information and standards related to groups in situations of vulnerability can be found in the Detention Focus Database.

The role of National Preventive Mechanisms

Through their preventive work, National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) can play an important role in protecting the rights of persons in situations of vulnerability against torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

To this effect, the APT held a series of symposiums for NPMs and other experts from all over the world to exchange knowledge and practices on vulnerabilities in detention:

The Jean-Jacques Gautier NPM Symposium is organised by the APT, with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

About Jean-Jacques Gautier