Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons
under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
General Assembly Resolution 43/173 (9 December 1988)
Principle 1
All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a
humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
. . .
Principle 4
Any form of detention or imprisonment and all measures affecting the human
rights of a person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be ordered by, or be
subject to the effective control of, a judicial or other authority.
Principle 5
1. These principles shall be applied to all persons within the territory of any given
State, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion or
religious belief, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, birth
or other status.
2. Measures applied under the law and designed solely to protect the rights and
special status of women, especially pregnant women and nursing mothers, children and
juveniles, aged, sick or handicapped persons shall not be deemed to be discriminatory.
The need for, and the application of, such measures shall always be subject to review by a
judicial or other authority.
Principle 6
No person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be subjected to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.* No circumstance
whatever may be invoked as a justification for torture or other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.
Principle 7
. . .
2. Officials who have reason to believe that a violation of this Body of Principles
has occurred or is about to occur shall report the matter to their superior authorities and,
where necessary, to other appropriate authorities or organs vested with reviewing or
remedial powers.
. . .
* [The following rather poignant note is contained in the original:] The term “cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment” should be interpreted so as to extend the widest possible protection
against abuses, whether physical or mental, including the holding of a detained or imprisoned person in
conditions which deprive him, temporarily or permanently, of the use of any of his natural senses, such as
sight or hearing, or of his awareness of place and the passing of time [italics added].
Principle 10
Anyone who is arrested shall be informed at the time of his arrest of the reason for
his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
Principle 11
1. A person shall not be kept in detention without being given an effective
opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial or other authority. A detained person shall
have the right to defend himself or to be assisted by counsel as prescribed by law.
2. A detained person and his counsel, if any, shall receive prompt and full
communication of any order of detention, together with the reasons therefore.
3. A judicial or other authority shall be empowered to review as appropriate the
continuance of detention.
Principle 12
1. There shall be duly recorded:
(a) The reasons for the arrest; (b) The time of the arrest and the
taking of the arrested person to a place of custody as well as that of his
first appearance before a judicial or other authority; (c) The identity of the
law enforcement officials concerned;
. . .
(d) Precise information concerning the place of custody.
2. Such records shall be communicated to the detained person, or his counsel, if
any, in the form prescribed by law.
. . .
Principle 16
1. Promptly after arrest and after each transfer from one place of detention or
imprisonment to another, a detained or imprisoned person shall be entitled to notify or to
require the competent authority to notify members of his family or other appropriate
persons of his choice of his arrest, detention or imprisonment or of the transfer and of the
place where he is kept in custody.
2. If a detained or imprisoned person is a foreigner, he shall also be promptly
informed of his right to communicate by appropriate means with a consular post or the
diplomatic mission of the State of which he is a national or which is otherwise entitled to
receive such communication in accordance with international law or with the
representative of the competent international organization, if he is a refugee or is
otherwise under the protection of an intergovernmental organization.
. . .
Principle 20
If a detained or imprisoned person so requests, he shall if possible be kept in a
place of detention or imprisonment reasonably near his usual place of residence.
Principle 21
1. It shall be prohibited to take undue advantage of the situation of a detained or
imprisoned person for the purpose of compelling him to confess, to incriminate himself
otherwise or to testify against any other person.
2. No detained person while being interrogated shall be subject to violence,
threats or methods of interrogation which impair his capacity of decision or his