Other Resources

For Canadian detention monitoring entities and other human rights actors there exist various other useful resources in relation to the monitoring of places of detention. Several international NGOs have played a key role in developing these tools (as well as other actors), which are often available in both English and French. What follows is a succinct overview of these resources with the related links from where interested persons can download the said documents.

The Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture has published various guides and tools with a focus on either monitoring different places of detention (such as prisons, police facilities and centres for migrants) or on vulnerable persons and groups in detention (such as children, women, LGBTI prisoners, migrants and persons with mental disabilities). As an illustrative case in point, in late 2018 the APT added to its many other detention monitoring resources through the publication of its new tool, Towards the Effective Protection of LGBTI Persons Deprived of Liberty: A Monitoring Guide, as highlighted on this website.

LGBTI Monitoring Guide

As these monitoring guides are quite numerous (almost all of which are available in English and French), readers might wish to click on the preceding links to explore what is available. Alternatively, readers may wish to examine the following documents as limited examples of the APT’s first-class work in this connection.

Other resources monitoring            Other resources monitoring

Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) have invested considerable effort to develop their so-called Detention Monitoring Tool. The Tool comprises four thematic papers, which analyze broader detention-related themes, and six short fact-sheets which provide practical guidance on how monitoring bodies can focus on a number of systemic issues that are particularly high risk factors for torture or ill-treatment.


While the English versions of the papers were updated in 2015 to reflect changes in the revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), these changes have unfortunately yet to be incorporated into the French versions.

That said, the Detention Monitoring Tool certainly merits closer consideration by interested Canadian actors. The Tool comprises the following thematic papers and fact-sheets (all of which can be obtained by clicking on the preceding link):

  • Institutional culture in detention: a framework for preventive monitoring;
  • Women in detention: a guide to gender-sensitive monitoring;
  • LGBTI persons deprived of their liberty: a framework for preventive monitoring;
  • Balancing security and dignity in detention: a framework for preventive monitoring;
  • Body searches;
  • Incident management and independent investigations;
  • Instruments of restraint;
  • Pre-trial detention;
  • Staff working conditions;
  • Video-recording in police custody.

More generally, Penal Reform International has produced a diversity of very useful documents with detention-related themes, some of which are available in both of Canada’s official languages. Readers should consult PRI’s website directly for more details, but for the moment the following documents may be of interest to Canadian human rights and criminal justice actors (please click on the images to download the publications):

Other resources Mandella Rules            Other resources Mandella Rules

In the above connection, in 2018 PRI and OSCE-ODIHR published a related report titled Guidance Document on the Nelson Mandela Rules, which was also featured as a news update in the pages of the Canada OPCAT Project.

Mandella Rules Guidance Document

More specifically, PRI has also undertaken some very invaluable work on women and children in detention, the former comprises a so-called ‘Toolbox’ with a focus on the UN Bangkok Rules, which readers may wish to consult.

Other resources children & violent extremism            Other resources Women in detention

Different documents from the Toolbox on the Bangkok Rules have been examined in detail on this website.

The February 2020 published tool, Women in prison: mental health and well-being – a guide for prison staff, courtesy of Penal Reform International and the Prison Reform Trust may also be of interest to readers. The document aptly complements PRI’s 2018 publication and Mental health in prison: A short guide for prison staff.

Penal Reform International and the Human Rights Implementation Centre at the University of Bristol Law School have also developed a set of tools titled Monitoring Prisoners with Special Needs. The tools are aimed at assisting NPMs with their monitoring of four groups of prisoners, namely LGBTI prisoners, older prisoners, prisoners with disabilities and foreign national prisoners.

The 2019 publication, Places of Deprivation of Liberty and Gender, will also undoubtedly be of significant interest to human rights actors focusing on the situation of women in Canada’s different closed institutions. Authored by Omar Phoenix Khan and jointly published by the DCAF Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, OSCE-ODIHR and UN Women on 18 December 2019, the publication arrives as one of the latest installments in the so-called Gender and Security Toolkit.

This highly welcome resource is featured among a series of Tools and Policy Briefs issued by the said international organizations on a diversity of human rights topics, including policing and genderjustice and gender, and security sector governance, sector reform and gender.

In August 2019 OSCE-ODIHR issued another key publication, Preventing and Addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Places of Deprivation of Liberty: Standards, Approaches and Examples from the OSCE Region, which readers are invited to consult.

Dignity – The Danish Institute Against Torture is another respected international CSO, which has developed an excellent publication on the topic of women in detention, titled Conditions for Women in Detention: Needs, vulnerabilities and good practices (please click on the image below to access the document). Dignity has also made available a wide range of country-specific documents on torture, including on incarcerated women and children. The organization’s 10 Legal Fact Sheets on specific detention issues also merit a closer read, as highlighted on this website.

Dignity Conditions Women Detention

In 2018 a consortium of three organizations issued a new publication with a focus on minors titled Children in Pretrial Detention: Promoting Stronger International Time Limits. Based on extensive research, the authors, Juvenile Justice Advocates International, International Human Rights Law Clinic at Washington College of Law, and University of Minnesota Human Rights Center found that long periods of time in pretrial detention typically result in increased risk of torture, false confessions and unfair plea bargains, increased corruption, physical and mental abuse, prison overcrowding and increased recidivism. The report argues for a whole raft of measures to counter prolonged pretrial detention. An English version of the report can be obtained by clicking on the image below, while a summary of the report in French is also available.

Anti-Torture Resources

Washington College of Law’s Anti Torture Initiative (which is part of its Centre for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law) has other useful publications of potential interest to Canadian readers. Its 2017 and 2013 publications, Protecting Children against Torture in Detention and Torture in Healthcare Settings, are illustrative cases in point. The focus of the former in section 3 titled ‘Children Deprived of Liberty in Non-Traditional Contexts’ and the discussions on immigration detention, social care homes and orphanages are especially revealing, while the chapter titled ‘Deprivation of Liberty of Children: The Importance of Monitoring’ (see page 209 onwards) is worth at least two or three reads. Click on the images below please to access the publications (available only in English).

Anti-Torture Resources            Anti-Torture Resources

The Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) similarly represents an invaluable source for Canadian actors engaged in detention monitoring. Even though the Council of Europe’s overall legal framework may not directly apply to Canada (for obvious reasons!), the standards and tools developed by the CPT over the course of several decades are still highly relevant, not least as they advance and draw on best practice.

The CPT’s standards and tools are divided into eight categories which include the following:

  • Police/law enforcement;
  • Prisons;
  • Immigration detention;
  • Psychiatric establishments/social care homes;
  • Juveniles;
  • Women;
  • Accountability/complaints mechanisms;
  • And transport.

It should be noted that all of the documents relating to these categories are also available in French.

Depending upon the category, these groupings are then subdivided into sub-categories. Thus, under the category of ‘police’ the interested reader will find documents on Police custody, Developments concerning CPT standards in respect of police custody, Access to a lawyer as a means of preventing ill-treatment and Electrical discharge weapons. The category of ‘prisons’ is even more diverse, comprising nine sub-categories.

The age of these documents varies greatly from the early 1990s right up to the present day (see the document on Complaints mechanisms, for example, taken from the CPT’s 27th General Report from 2018). No matter the era from which they originate, the CPT’s publicly available materials are exemplary in all respects and well worth investigating.

Finally, for readers perhaps less familiar with the CPT as an entity, the following FAQ may be of interest, which is also available in French. Alternatively, there exists a short video of the work of this esteemed organization which can be watched on its homepage.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also produced no end of high quality materials on the topic of detention. The limited space allocated below for ICRC materials simply does not do justice to the range of excellent publications, posters and videos which the ICRC routinely makes available to the public, which are often obtainable in both of Canada’s official languages. Interested persons may therefore wish to conduct their own searches of the organization’s so-called Resource Centre for materials. Below one can find a very small selection of more recent ICRC publications with detention as a theme.

Other resources Ageing and Detention

Other resources La violence sexuelle en detention            Other resources Dignity and Safety

Les enfants en detention

Mention cannot be made to key resources on the prevention of torture without reference to Amnesty International, arguably still the world’s leading human rights organization. While the organization has produced numerous crucial documents over the years, two more recent contributions include Combating Torture and Other Ill-treatment: A Manual for Action (2016) and Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises (2014).

                    NPM resources Amnesty International publication

In particular, Combating Torture is a very useful reference document on a wide array of torture-related issues and is a must for human rights practitioners and detention monitoring specialists alike.

The use of solitary isolation and restraints in detention are certainly not unknown in the Canadian detention context. On the former issue there exists a very useful publication written by academic Sharon Shalev titled A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement which is available in English and French. The Sourcebook provides detention monitors, human rights practitioners and other criminal justice actors with a comprehensive single point of reference on solitary confinement, its documented health effects, and professional, ethical and human rights guidelines and codes of practice relating to its use. Even though the publication is now 10 years old (it was published in 2008), when read through the lens of more up-to-date tools such as the Nelson Mandela Rules, it remains a highly relevant and valuable piece of work.

L'isolement cellulaire

In a more recent set of publications the Omega Research Foundation and the University of Essex have secured a firm handle on the challenge of monitoring the use of weapons and restraints in places of detention. The two organizations have produced a very welcome Practical Guide and one-page foldable Pocket Book for this purpose. The latter is described as a detailed resource which collates standards around the use of firearms, less lethal weapons and restraints in places of detention, and provides checklists of questions to ask and key areas for monitors to observe, while its lighter-weight counter-part summarizes key points from the Practical Guide and is designed to be easy for monitors to print out and use in places of detention. These resources are available in English and French and have been previously featured on this website.

Anti-torture tools

Have we forgotten to include a key detention monitoring/torture prevention resource? Please let us know and we will do our level best to feature it.