Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering 


Grounded in science, law and ethics, the Principles propose a concrete alternative to interrogation methods that rely on coercion to extract confessions. They provide guidance on obtaining accurate and reliable information in full respect of the human rights and dignity of all, including through the implementation of legal and procedural safeguards in the first hours of police custody. The principles aim to transform the relationship between States and their citizens. They are intended to change how public authorities conduct interviewing and as a result improve trust in the State. 

Principles on Effective Interviewing

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Six core priciples 

Principle 1 – On Foundation

Effective interviewing is instructed by science, law and ethics

Principle 2 – On Practice

Effective interviewing is a comprehensive process for gathering accurate and reliable information while implementing associated legal safeguards

Principle 3 – On Vulnerability

Effective interviewing requires identifying and addressing the needs of interviewees in situations of vulnerability

Principle 4 – On Training

Effective interviewing is a professional undertaking that requires specific training

Principle 5 – On Accountability

Effective interviewing requires transparent and accountable institutions

Principle 6 – On Implementation

The implementation of effective interviewing requires robust national measures

"These Principles on Interviewing are based on rigorous science and on decades of experience of criminal investigators. They improve the effectiveness and accuracy of evidence-gathering and they prevent miscarriages of justice brought about by torture and coercion to confess. They are designed to protect the fundamental rights of persons suspected of crime as well as of victims and witnesses, and to enhance civic trust on law enforcement."

― Professor Juan E. Méndez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

Supportive Statements

Testimonials from practitioners


Since October 2021, a wide range of institutions and organisations have expressed their support for the Méndez Principles, including academia, NGOs and other institutions. 


The Drafting Process 

These Principles have been drafted by experts in the fields of interviewing, law enforcement, criminal investigations, national security, military, intelligence, psychology, criminology and human rights from around the world. An international Steering Committee of 15 members has guided this process and striven to ground the work on a wide empirical research base, documented good practices, established international law and professional ethics. The final text is the result of four years of their analysis and research in consultation with an Advisory Council of more than 80 experts from over 40 countries.


The Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering were adopted in May 2021 with the support of Anti-Torture Initiative, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.

Association for the Prevention of Torture


The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) is an international nongovernmental organisation based in Geneva, working globally to prevent torture and other ill-treatment. Founded in 1977, the APT aims at reducing the risks of torture and ill-treatment by advocating and promoting practical measures such as monitoring of places of detention, implementation of safeguards and protection of detained persons in situations of vulnerability. The APT has played a key role in establishing international standards and mechanisms to prevent torture, among them the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and National Preventive Mechanisms. 

Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law

American University Washington College of Law

The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law (Center) is an academic unit of American University Washington College of Law. The Center established its Anti-Torture Initiative in 2012 to expand the reach and practical implementation of the work of former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez. Through its Anti-Torture Initiative, the Center seeks to promote access to justice and accountability for victims of torture by cultivating a mindset that rejects torture as a legitimate practice and strengthening the institutions, advocates, and global networks that seek to eliminate torture.

Norwegian Centre for Human Rights

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law

Founded in 1987, The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) is a multidisciplinary Centre at the University of Oslo. The activities at the centre revolve around research, teaching, and applied international programmes. NCHR staff consist of lawyers, political scientists, social anthropologists, social geographers and philosophers. The Centre places emphasis on the connection between research education and the practical application of knowledge. 

APT, ATI, NCHR © 2021

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