Reducing Excessive Pretrial Detention

Around 280,000 Indians are being held in prison awaiting or undergoing trial.

These prisoners, who are known as ‘undertrials’, account for two out of three prisoners in India’s prisons – a percentage far higher than many other countries around the world. Excessive pretrial detention violates the right to a speedy trial, undermines the rule of law, leads to overcrowding of prisons and can lead to custodial excesses.

Undertrials are among the most vulnerable sections of the prison population – they are prevented from contributing to the preparation of their defense, face the risk of physical and psychological abuse and even torture, and often suffer from health problems caused by overcrowding.

We work towards reducing excessive pretrial detention for undertrials by addressing barriers, both systemic and operational, which exacerbate the problem of prolonged detention in jails. In many cases, such detention can be unlawful and in violation of various international and domestic laws.

What Did Amnesty Do?

Between 2014 and 2015, Amnesty International India filed Right to Information applications in 493 district and central jails across India to assess the effectiveness of some of the safeguards for the protection of undertrials’ rights..