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Detention Procedure Assessment Tool (DPAT)

Drawing on the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) 20 years of experience providing technical legal assistance to promote the rule of law in more than 70 countries worldwide, and in the framework of ABA ROLI’s seven other legal assessment tools, ABA ROLI has developed the Detention Procedure Assessment Tool (DPAT) to evaluate the use of detention in criminal cases at both the pretrial and sentencing stages. The pilot DPAT was conducted in Armenia in February 2010.

The DPAT assesses the procedures, legal framework and practices relating to deprivation of liberty at all stages of criminal proceedings, from the moment an individual is deprived of liberty until the time that individual is returned to full liberty, including an assessment of the framework and practice for imposing non-custodial measures at both the pretrial and post-conviction stages. The DPAT examines both the de jure legislative and procedural framework for detention, and the de facto practices under which detention is imposed. The DPAT assessment draws on international and regional laws, norms and best practices concerning pretrial detention and sentencing, evaluating a country’s detention regime vis-à-vis 27 factors reflecting distinct critical issues and stages of the detention process.

The DPAT report is arranged in seven sections, five of which are arranged chronologically and deal with specific procedural stages, and two of which address overarching issues present at every stage of detention. The DPAT addresses initial detention at the time of apprehension or arrest, the formal imposition of pretrial detention; detention during the adjudicative process, imposition of a sentence of incarceration, alternatives to pretrial detention and incarceration, appeals and extraordinary remedies and parole. The DPAT also looks at overarching issues including due process guarantees, consistency and fairness, institutional resources, external and undue influence, victim involvement, special considerations for juveniles, and practices and procedures during detention. The DPAT assesses procedural issues, not issues of human rights and mistreatment per se, in the belief that by promoting the rule of law through transparent and effective procedural reforms a country is likely to improve the human rights situation in its detention facilities.

The DPAT report will be presented in a standardized format for each country assessment, allowing readers to compare and contrast performance of different countries in different areas as well as—as follow-up assessments are implemented—within a given country over time. Each DPAT report will also include an introduction to the DPAT methodology and assessment process, background on the country’s history and legal system, and an executive summary of assessment findings. Each of the 27 factors will be introduced with a short summary of the internationally accepted standards pertaining to that factor. The DPAT assessment is qualitative, not quantitative, and each factor will be assigned a correlation of positive, negative or neutral, indicating the country’s progress in complying with the internationally accepted standards. Each factor will include a brief conclusion of the country’s situation with respect to the factor, followed by in-depth analysis summarizing the de jure and de facto situation detailing the various issues affecting that factor in the country. The assessment presents a neutral and apolitical evaluation of a country’s detention procedures, legal framework and practices. It does not make specific recommendations for reform, but rather provides an analysis of the issues surrounding pretrial detention and incarceration, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of a country’s detention regime.