This article focuses on the role the African and Inter-American human rights systems in
protecting the rights of detainees through interim measures. The need for regional human rights to complement protection at the national level is all the more pronounced when it comes to detainees, because they oft en lack democratic leverage at the national level. While complementing the universal system, regional systems have the added benefit of closer connection and binding judgments. Because the situation of detainees often requires urgent intervention, interim measures are required to ensure that detainees do not suffer undue harm. A comparative survey of interim measures in the two regional systems reveals that, while these measures had been issued in both systems, the Inter-American has used them much more frequently. One of the reasons for this difference is the fact that the Inter-American system does not make the submission of a formal complaint a prerequisite for issuing interim measures. The African Commission should amend its Rules of Procedure to allow for a similar possibility; and it should devote more resources and institutionalize this procedure. Despite the inclusion of collective rights in the African system, the African Commission has infrequently dealt with urgent measures affecting groups of detainees. Both systems suffer from some defects. There is a lack of substantiated reasoning in decisions dealing with interim measures, especially
when requests are rejected; information is not made available systematically about the fate of all requests for interim measures; and a lack of compliance besets both systems.