Liberia Publications

A sort criterion
No Justice for the Poor
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 09, 2013

This is a Preliminary Study of the Law and Practice Relating to Arrests for Nuisance-Related Offences in Blantyre, Malawi, by the Southern African Litigation Centre and the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), funded by the Open Society Foundation for Southern Africa and the United Nations Democracy Fund.

30 Days/Dae/Izinsuku June 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 03, 2013

This edition of 30 Days covers news items from June 2013, covering prison conditions, sentencing and parole, corruption and governance, rehabilitation, and other African countries.

Newsletter 5: Pre-trial detention in West Africa; guidelines on police custody and pre-trial detention; audit of pre-trial detention in Mozambique
Author: Jean
Published: Jun 06, 2013

Pre-trial detention in West Africa: Prohibitive conditions of release and the nature of bribery in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ghana; Guidelines on the use and conditions of police custody and pre-trial detention in Africa: African Commission draft guidelines to be followed by extensive consultation; Audit of pre-trial detention in Mozambique under way Data on conditions and process of pre-trial detention being collected across Mozambique

Presentation on Remand Detention Trends for the Round Table on Remand Detention
Author: Jean
Published: Jun 06, 2013

This presentation indicates that the state now incarcerates close to 3 remand detainees for every person a judicial officer eventually finds guilty and sentences to a term of imprisonment in a year. The current ratio of 3 to 1 implies that 2 out of 3 remand detainees will never be convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. It further implies that the “correct” remand population should be one third of its current size i.e. around 17,000 people.

30 Days/Dae/Izinsuku May 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Jun 03, 2013

This edition of 30 Days covers news items from May 2013, covering prison conditions, sentencing and parole, corruption and governance, rehabilitation, and other African countries.

Press Release on Overcrowding
Author: Jean
Published: May 30, 2013

CSPRI responds to the Minister of Justice’s claim that prison overcrowding is an indication of the NPA “doing a good job”. Statistics provided by CSPRI counters the Minister's claims on the efficacy of the NPA.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Algeria 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: May 28, 2013

"The constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, but in practice authorities did not always respect legal provisions regarding defendants’ rights. Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney, provided at public expense if necessary. Most trials are public and all are nonjury. Defendants can confront or question witnesses against them or present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. In the past, reports indicated that courts occasionally denied defendants and their attorneys access to government-held evidence, but there were very few reports of such incidents during the year. Defendants have the right to appeal. The testimony of men and women has equal weight under the law."

The Socio-economic Impact of Pretrial Detention in Sierra Leone
Author: Jean
Published: May 23, 2013

This study, carried out by Timap for Justice and Prison Watch Sierra Leone, in collaboration with UNDP and the Open Society Justice Initiative, found that pretrial detention primarily affects average Sierra Leoneans; breadwinners who are poor or on low-incomes, as well as their families. The study has detailed findings on the demography of detainees and the social, health, and human rights effects of pretrial detention on detainees.

30 Days/Dae/Izinsuku April 2013
Author: Jean
Published: May 08, 2013

This edition of 30 Days covers news items from April 2013, covering prison conditions, sentencing and parole, corruption and governance, rehabilitation, and other African countries.

Discussion paper: The Use and Practice of Imprisonment: Current Trends and Future Challenges
Author: Jean
Published: May 02, 2013

Penal Reform International side-event at the 22nd session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Vienna 22-26 April 2013. Extract: "Latest UN data suggest that the share of the prison population in pre-trial detention worldwide decreased from 29 to 25 per cent between 2005 and 2011. Regionally, the percentage of pre-trial detainees fell from 61 to 35 per cent in Africa, from 25 to 24 per cent in the Americas and from 18 to 16 per cent in Europe, while it remained stable at 42 per cent in Asia.17 But official figures are likely to underestimate the numbers involved since in many countries detainees are held in police detention, escaping the prison statistics but not the fact of detention."

The Constitution (Sentencing Guidelines for Courts of Judicature) (Practice) Directions 2013
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 26, 2013

The objectives of these Practice Directions are— (a) to set out the purpose for which offenders may be sentenced or dealt with; (b) to provide principles and guidelines to be applied by courts in sentencing; (c) to provide sentence ranges and other means of dealing with offenders; (d) to provide a mechanism for considering the interests of victims of crime and the community when sentencing; and (e) to provide a mechanism that will promote uniformity, consistency and transparency in sentencing.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Tanzania 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 10, 2013

"The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the judiciary remained underfunded, corrupt (see section 4), inefficient (especially in the lower courts), and subject to executive influence. Court clerks reportedly continued to take bribes to decide whether to open cases and to hide or misdirect the files of those accused of crimes. According to news reports, magistrates of lower courts occasionally accepted bribes to determine the outcome of cases."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Gambia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 05, 2013

"The law provides for the presumption of innocence, a fair and public trial without undue delay, and adequate time and facilities to prepare defense. Under the law no one is compelled to testify or confess guilt. Trials were generally open to the public, unless closed-court sessions were necessary to protect the identity of a witness. In one instance, NIA officials denied accredited diplomats entrance to the final session of the Supreme Court appeal hearing regarding seven former government officials sentenced to death for treason (see section 1.e.). Juries were not used. Defendants can consult an attorney and have the right to confront witnesses and evidence against them, present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, and appeal judgment to a higher court. The law extends these rights to all citizens, and no persons were denied these rights during the year; however, detainees were rarely informed of their rights or the reasons for their arrest or detention, according to Amnesty International. For example, outspoken Muslim cleric Imam Bakawsu Fofana, who was arrested on May 31 and held for nine days without charge, was never informed of the reason he was detained."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Mali 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 04, 2013

"The law stipulates that charged prisoners must be tried within one year, but this limit frequently was exceeded, and lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Lengthy trial procedures, large numbers of detainees, judicial inefficiency, corruption, and staff shortages contributed to lengthy pretrial detention. Individuals sometimes remained in prison for several years before their cases came to trial. Many individuals could not afford bail. Approximately 45 percent of the prison population consisted of persons awaiting trial. Available data do not include prisons located in the country’s northern regions."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Nigeria 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 04, 2013

"The constitution provides for public trials in the regular court system and individual rights in criminal and civil cases. The constitution does not provide for juries or the right to access government-held evidence. However, the criminal procedure act provides for this access, and the defendant can apply to access government-held evidence either directly or through a lawyer. Defendants enjoy the right to presumption of innocence, to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges (with free interpretation as necessary), to a fair and public trial without undue delay, to communicate with an attorney of choice (or to have one provided at public expense), to adequate time and facilities to prepare defense, to confront witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence, not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and to appeal. Authorities did not always respect these rights. Although an accused person is entitled to counsel of his choice, no law prevents a trial from going forward without counsel, except for certain offenses for which the penalty is death. The Legal Aid Act provides for the appointment of counsel in such cases and stipulates that a trial should not go forward without it. Defendants were held in prison awaiting trial for well beyond the term allowed in the constitution (see section 1.c.). Human rights groups alleged terror suspects detained by the military were denied their right to access to legal representation, due process, or the opportunity to be heard by a judicial authority."

30 Days/Dae/Izinsuku March 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 04, 2013

This edition of 30 days covers news items from March 2013, covering prison conditions, sentencing and parole, corruption and governance, rehabiliation, and news from other African countries.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Sudan 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 02, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention was common. The large numbers of detainees and judicial inefficiency, such as the failure of judges to appear for court, resulted in trial delays. For example, at year’s end Jalila Khamis Kuku, a teacher and activist held in detention since March, was awaiting trial on several charges that carried the death penalty. Authorities changed the time and location of his trial on several occasions without explanation."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Rwanda 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 02, 2013

"The law provides for a presumption of innocence, but government officials did not always adhere to this in practice. The law requires defendants be informed promptly and in detail of the charges in a language they comprehend; however, judges postponed numerous hearings because this had not occurred. Defendants have the right to a fair trial without undue delay, but there were an insufficient number of prosecutors, judges, and courtrooms to hold trials within a reasonable period of time. In the ordinary court system (vice military and community justice “gacaca” courts) the law provides for public trials, although courts closed proceedings in cases involving minors, to protect witnesses, or at the request of defendants. Judges, rather than juries, try all cases. Defendants have the right to communicate with an attorney of choice, although few could afford private counsel. Minors are guaranteed legal representation by law. The law does not provide for an attorney at state expense for indigent defendants; however, the Rwandan Bar Association and 36 other member organizations of the Legal Aid Forum provided legal assistance to some indigent defendants, although they lacked the resources to provide defense counsel to all in need. The law requires that defendants have adequate time and facilities to prepare their defense, and judges routinely granted requests to extend preparation time. Defendants and their attorneys have the right to access government-held evidence relevant to their cases, but courts did not always respect this right. Defendants have the right to be present at trial, confront witnesses against them, and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. The law protects defendants from being compelled to testify or confess guilt, and judges generally respected that right during trial. However, there were numerous reports SSF coerced suspects into confessing guilt and of judges accepting such confessions despite defendants’ protests. The law provides for the right to appeal, and this provision was respected."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Kenya 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 01, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a serious problem and contributed to overcrowding in prisons. Some defendants served more than the statutory term for their alleged offense in pretrial detention. Approximately 36 percent of inmates were pretrial detainees. The government claimed that the average time spent in pretrial detention on capital charges was 16 months; however, there were reports that many detainees spent two to three years in prison before their trials were completed. Police from the arresting locale are responsible for serving court summonses and picking up detainees from prison each time a court schedules a hearing on a case. Due to a shortage of manpower and resources, police often failed to appear or lacked the means to transport detainees, who then were forced to wait for the next hearing of their cases."