Pre-Trial Detention

Pre-trial detention is an extreme measure which should be applied for the shortest time possible.

Nevertheless, the reality in Latin America is different. Many Latin American judicial officials, pressured by public opinion in favor of harsher punishments because of the weak judicial systems that fail to respond adequately to the situation, apply extensive and, in many cases, arbitrary pre-trial detention.

This phenomenon explains in large part the sustained increase in prison populations in the last few decades.

While public clamor in favor of “heavy handed” (mano dura) policies becomes stronger, judiciaries often fail to develop institutional policies to respond adequately  Furthermore, judges who are in favor of the protection of individual guarantees are confronted with a judicial system that leaves them unprotected with respect to the resulting media pressure and which might apply disciplinary sanctions if they don’t apply pre-trial detention.

DPLF, in coordination with local organizations, studies the impact that the attacks on judicial independence have on decisions regarding pre-trial detention, in order to propose concrete recommendations that promote judicial impartiality and the legitimate use of pre-trial detention.

Since 2012, DPLF has been a part of the Regional Network for Pretrial Justice in Latin America, where it is in charge of the area of judicial independence and pre-trial detention. Find more information on the Regional Network here.


Access our publications on Pretrail Detention.