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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 we do not handle complaints related to the Charter.

If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights, please 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 our 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.

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.