When detained you will be held in a temporary place of detention. You have the right to be held in conditions that are not inhumane or degrading.

To evaluate if you are being held according to human rights standards, you should pay attention to the following basic conditions:

  • Are men and women being held separately?
  • Is your cell big enough for the number of people in it?
  • Do you have a bed, mattress and blanket?
  • Do you have a toilet and sink in your cell, which is properly separated from the rest of the cell?
  • Is it too cold or too hot in the cell?
  • Do you have daylight during the day and a light after dark?
  • Have you been able to go for fresh air if you have been arrested for longer than 24 hours?
  • Have you been fed three times a day and given unlimited access to drinking water?
  • Have you received the necessary hygienic products?

In Estonia, the details and standards of these conditions are explained in the Imprisonment Act which provides the procedure for and organization of execution of imprisonment, detention and custody pending trial. 

What human rights violation may there be?

Being held in inappropriate conditions may be very humiliating and cause physical and psychological suffering. For example, if you are denied food or water, or you have to go to the toilet in front of other cellmates, or you do not have a bed and for many hours you are unable to sit or lie down. Inappropriate conditions may result in inhumane or degrading treatment.

However, the suffering has to reach at least a minimum level of severity to result in a human rights violation. When assessing whether you have been held in conditions that are inhumane or degrading, such things as the duration of the situation, the physical and psychological effects, your age, gender and the condition of your health would be taken into account. Often, the conditions at the place of detention will all be evaluated together and not on the basis of a single, isolated incident.

For mistreatment to be considered torture, the actions have to be particularly serious and cruel and cause very severe suffering. Read more about how to evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education