What are pretrial detention rights?

Pretrial rights are human rights. Specifically, they are the fundamental human rights that each and every person in prison – regardless of guilt – must be afforded by the detaining country.

Sadly, pretrial detention rights are often overlooked or abused. Many country authorities try to justify this abuse because a person is being held in prison and is often accused with very serious crimes. This is no excuse for the violation of fundamental rights.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! If you are in pretrial detention, you have these rights:

  • Right to libertyPRI-00053
  • Right to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • Right to be considered innocent until proven guilty
  • Right to basic human dignity, food, and medical care
  • Right to be treated with humanity
  • Right to be free of governmental torture and of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
  • Right to security of person
  • Right to a speedy trial or to otherwise be released without undue delay
  • Right to be represented by a lawyer, to communicate with that lawyer, and to prepare a defense
  • Right to due process of law
  • Right to have bail and release requests heard
  • Right to know the charges made against you
  • Right to understand the charges against you in a language you speak
  • Right to be charged only under laws in existence at the time of arrest
  • Right to a fair trial or hearing
  • Right to an impartial trial or hearing
  • Right to a public trial or hearing
  • Right to be present for any trials or hearings against you
  • Right to an interpreter if you cannot understand the proceedings against you
  • Right to examine witnesses against you
  • Right not to be compelled to testify against yourself or confess guilt
  • Right to challenge unlawful detention
  • Right to be segregated from convicted criminals
  • Right to compensation for unlawful arrest or detention
  • Right to be free once acquitted and not held or tried twice for the same crime
  • (Juveniles) Right to be tried in accordance with your age and not to be imprisoned with adults

Common pretrial detention problems, such as holding someone without charges or for excessive periods of time, violate these rights.

These pretrial detention rights—human rights—are found in many of the treaties and texts that have been recognized by the international community as universal and inalienable. For more reading on the international law of pretrial detention, click here.