You have the right to information about the reasons for your detention and the charges against you

Right to information

Human rights demand that when you are being detained, the police must inform you about the reasons for your detention and any charges against you. It is a very important safeguard because if you know what you are accused of and why you are held, you have the opportunity to more effectively challenge the basis and need for your detention. This information has to be given to you or to your lawyer. 

What information must be given and when?

The detention officer has to inform you about the reasons for your detention and the charges at the very moment of detention. However, it is sometimes impossible to give you more detailed information about your charges at the moment of detention. Human rights state that you may be informed about the reasons for your detention and given information about the charges within a few hours of your detention. Human rights do not require that you are provided with a complete and finalised description of all charges at this stage.  

In Estonia a suspect who is detained shall be immediately submitted a written declaration of rights concerning his or her rights in the criminal proceedings. A suspect shall have the right to keep the declaration in his or her possession during the time of detention. If the suspect is not proficient in the Estonian language, he or she shall be provided with the declaration of rights in his or her mother tongue or in a language in which he or she is proficient.

Detention protocol

In Estonia, the police will write a detention protocol at the moment of detention or immediately after bringing you to the police station. The protocol must explain why you are being detained and how to challenge your detention. You have the right to read and sign the protocol. Before signing it, you also have the right to supplement the protocol with your opinion about whether you believe the detention and its execution was lawful. You should also verify whether the time of detention indicated in the protocol corresponds with the actual time of your detention as the permissible length of your detention will be counted from the time indicated in the protocol. 

The reasons for your detention and the charges have to be explained to you in simple and non-technical language. In addition, if you do not understand the language in which the protocol is written, the police have to explain to you the reasons for your detention and the charges against you in a language that you do understand. You have a right to request access to any evidence which is essential in order to contesting detention in court.

What human rights violation may there be?

If you are not informed promptly and adequately of the reasons for the detention and the charges against you, this may result in a violation of the right to liberty and security of a person.


Last updated 17/07/2017