Protection of detainees: ICRC action behind bars
International Review of the Red Cross
83 Founded in 1863 in reaction to the suffering on the battlefields, the ICRC soon took an interest in the situation of persons deprived of their liberty. 1 After the wounded and the sick, detainees are, historically, the third category of vulnerable persons with whom the ICRC has been concerned. The ICRC's efforts aim, as a priority, to ensure that detainees are treated humanely and with respect for their dignity. Every detainee is in a situation of particular vulnerability, both vis-à-vis
... both vis-à-vis their captor and in relation to their environment. The change in status from free person to detainee means the loss of all points of reference and immersion in an unknown world where the rules are different and the values unfamiliar. Life in a closed environment away from the outside world tends to dehumanize people by eliminating Abstract The author describes the history and the premises and characteristics of the action of the ICRC in favour of persons deprived of liberty. He believes that the efficiency of its approach, in particular the visits to detainees, is closely linked to the respect of a constant and rigorous working method including the modalities of the visits and the confidentiality of the interventions to the authorities. Finally, the implication of the ICRC is to be inscribed in a large process and is complementary to the efforts of the authorities, other organizations and mechanisms as well as of the international community at large. Its approach however remains unique in several aspects.