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Right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty

Section 22 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects your right to be treated humanely and with respect and dignity, if you are detained. In such situations, you must be kept separately from people who have been convicted. The Charter applies to public authorities in Victoria, such as state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of the government.

How does the law protect me?

Even if you have been detained by law enforcement authorities, you must be treated with respect. Under the Charter, if you are detained, you have a right to be treated with humanity and dignity. If you are detained in a facility such as a prison, you must be kept separately from people who have been convicted of a criminal offence. If you are detained but not have not been convicted of a criminal offence, you must be treated appropriately by law enforcement authorities.

Can this right be limited in any way?

In some circumstances, one person’s right may come into conflict with the right of another person or group. In these circumstances, it can be necessary to limit or restrict these rights. Under section 7(2) of the Charter, rights may be limited in certain circumstances, but it must be reasonable, necessary, justified and proportionate.

In closed environments like prisons, some rights may be necessarily restricted – for example, the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of expression, and some aspects of the right to privacy.

The Victorian Charter does not apply to the Commonwealth Government. For example, it does not apply to federal officials running immigration detention centres. 

How we can help

We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities but the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission does not handle complaints related to the Charter.

If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights contact us.

For information about the legal history of this right, case law or Australia’s human rights framework, you can read more in our Policy and Legal sections of this website.

How to make a human rights complaint

If you think your human rights have been breached, you should contact the Victorian Ombudsman.

If you want to make a complaint about police conduct, contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.


Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries

1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.