Negotiating access: Most of the prisoners ICRC visits (or seeks to visit) are not protected by laws which oblige the authorities to open the gates - access must be negotiated.
Power of persuasion: The ICRC's discreet approach, in which its findings are reported only to the authority concerned, combined with its professional expertise and neutrality, form the key elements in persuading those in power to adopt, where necessary, more humanitarian measures.
The limits to discretion: ICRC might decide to break its rule of silence and/or suspend its operation under certain extreme circumstances:
if, after repeated approaches and requests, the prisoners'treatment or conditions hasn't improved
if the ICRC's usual procedures for visits are not respected
if a detaining authority publishes just part of a visit report
Such a decision would have to take into account the best interests of the detainees themselves.