This section examines the key international and regional legal instruments governing arrest and detention, identifying also some important areas of similarity and difference between their respective approaches. Selected elements of the treaty provisions are then discussed in more detail in relation to specific arrest and detention issues throughout the remainder of the Module.
The right to liberty, and protection against unlawful and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, are protected in all of the major international and regional conventions on civil and political rights. Alongside these instruments and their related jurisprudence developed by human rights courts, tribunals and supervisory mechanisms, various soft law instruments articulating important principles and standards regarding the implementation of the right to liberty exist too. At the United Nations level, these include the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
Although not the focus here, for completeness it should be noted that in a counter-terrorism context, the primary international human rights instrument, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), overlaps and interconnects with a number of other instruments, notably the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and its accompanying Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees; and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), especially its Optional Protocol which is "intended to establish a preventive system of regular visits to places of detention" (Preamble). Regional instruments, including topic specific ones, can similarly interconnect, both with other relevant regional as well as international instruments.