• Research/Scholar Paper name – Detention for Security and The Disintegration of Consular Access Rights
  • Author: Harshika Mehta
  • Institution: Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University
  • Affiliation: Centre for Study of Contemporary Legal Issues
  • Date of Publication: 11/09/2022


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a global trend of widespread and extended detentions on broadly defined national security grounds evolved. Many regulations enacted to combat the growing threat of terrorism directly contradict human rights standards, raising the possibility of torture, discrimination based on national or ethnic origin, and denial of fundamental due process. The development of new security measures has sanctioned the use of indefinite imprisonment without trial and other severe limits on prisoner rights, with a particularly harsh impact on foreign people accused of terrorist activity. One worrying part of these draconian responses deserves more attention than it has received thus far: the widespread denial of timely consular access to foreigners detained in restrictive detention, which is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and a slew of other binding treaty obligations. There is compelling evidence that the universality of consular communication and access rights has deteriorated dramatically over the last decade. Nations that have historically been at the forefront of demanding quick consular contact with their own people overseas have used the ill-defined “war on terror” to justify huge denials of consular access to foreigners held within their borders. Strengthening consular protection and effectively responding to denials of consular access are critical components of that balancing process. Rebuilding this protective barrier should thus be a top priority for governments, non-governmental organisations, and private individuals alike. Related domains of international law, such as the expanding collection of multilateral accords addressing terrorism, human rights, and prisoner care, provide important direction and confirmation. International court judgements, as well as treaty monitoring agencies’ conclusions, are another source of applicable legislation. Finally, instances of state conduct give real-world proof of the right to consular access as it is, rather than as it should be. This paper will focus on consulates’ usual right to aid and defend citizens imprisoned overseas under customary international law.

Detention for Security and The Disintegration of Consular Access Rights

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