Liberia Publications

A sort criterion
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."

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

"Lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem, and many of those incarcerated were pretrial detainees; the exact number was unavailable. Although prison authorities were required to provide monthly lists of prisoners and detainees to the Ministry of Justice, this did not occur. Inefficient judicial procedures, corruption, lack of monitoring, and inadequate staffing contributed to the problem."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Morocco 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 28, 2013

"Although the government claimed that accused persons were generally brought to trial within two months, prosecutors may request as many as five additional two-month extensions of pretrial detention. Consequently, pretrial detentions may last as long as one year. There were reports that authorities routinely held detainees beyond the one-year limit. Government officials attributed these delays to inefficiency and lack of resources in the court system. According to the government, as of October 1, pretrial detainees made up approximately 41 percent of the 69,054 inmates in prison. The parliamentary committee that investigated the conditions at Oukacha Prison (see section 1.c.) reported that 80 percent of Oukacha inmates were in pretrial detention. In some cases detainees received a sentence shorter than the time they spent in pretrial detention. NGOs continued to report that more than half of incarcerated minors were in pretrial detention. In some cases minors were detained for as long as eight months prior to trial."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Republic of Congo 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 27, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention due to judicial backlogs was a problem. Pretrial detainees continued to constitute three-fourths of the prison population. On average detainees waited one to three months in noncriminal cases and at least 12 months in criminal cases, according to prison authorities, or 12 to 36 months, according to human rights activists, before going to trial."

Budget Vote Submission
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 27, 2013

The submission is made in response to the 2013/14 Budget Vote as accompanied by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Strategic Plan 2013/14 - 2016/17 and Performance Plan 2013/14 - 2016/17. The submission deals with three broad issues: (1) alignment between the Strategic Plan and the budget, (2) creating safer prisons, and (3) rehabilitation and reintegration. The latter two focal areas are in response to a general request from the Portfolio Committee for submissions on these two issues.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Libya 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 26, 2013

"The Constitutional Declaration provides for an independent judiciary and stipulates that every person has a right to resort to the courts. The judicial system under Qadhafi was not independent. While the part of the system processing day-to-day, nonpolitically tinged cases functioned reasonably well, the judicial system, despite tentative efforts to reform it, remained largely ineffective in dealing with the complex issues arising from the end of the Qadhafi era. Thousands of persons in detention were held without access to a lawyer and without being informed of the charges against them. Moreover, few trials were held, and only a few investigations were initiated into alleged abuses by either pro- or anti-Qadhafi groups. Qadhafi’s parallel court system for political cases no longer existed, and the Ministry of Justice no longer directed the day-to-day operations of the court system. However, the courts still struggled to deal with sensitive and complex political cases. In addition, judges cited concerns about the overall lack of security in and around the courts as one of the reasons that they had not yet returned to work, further hindering the judiciary’s reestablishment. Detainees were also subjected to threats that they would be killed if released."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Gabon 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 25, 2013

"The constitution provides for the right to a public trial and to legal counsel, and the government generally respected these rights. Trial dates were often delayed. A judge may deliver an immediate verdict of guilty at the initial hearing in a state security trial if the government presents sufficient evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of charges when booked at a police station. Defendants are tried by a panel of three judges. Defendants enjoy the right to communicate with an attorney of choice and to adequate time and facilities to prepare their defense. Indigent defendants in both civil and criminal cases have the right to an attorney provided at state expense; however, this right was seldom respected in practice. Defendants have the right to confront witnesses against them; present witnesses or evidence on their behalf; access through their lawyer government-held evidence against them; and appeal. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. The government generally respected these rights, which were extended to all citizens."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Sierra Leone 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 25, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Prison Watch reported that due to a severe shortage of legal professionals, 60 percent of prisoners were waiting to be charged or tried, or their trials were not completed. Pretrial and remand detainees spent an average of three to five years in pretrial detention before courts examined their cases or filed formal charges. In extreme cases, the wait could be as long as 10 years. According to the NGO Open Society Initiative for West Africa, remand prisoners frequently changed their pleas from “not guilty” to “guilty” to be removed from the remand section to the less substandard areas of a prison. The joint UNIPSIL-OHCHR prison conditions report noted that limited access to bail, the absence of magistrates, and the irregularity of court sittings resulted in prisoners on remand often waiting more than a year to appear before a court and reported that the majority of prisoners were not serving a sentence."

US State Department Comoros 2012 Human Rights Report
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 25, 2013

"Pretrial detention was a problem. By law pretrial detainees can be held for only four months, but this period can be extended. Detainees routinely await trial for extended periods due to a variety of reasons, including administrative delays, case backlogs, and time-consuming collection of evidence. Some extensions lasted several months."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Somalia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 23, 2013

"Other major human rights abuses included harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary and politically motivated arrest and detention; denial of a fair trial; corruption; trafficking in persons; abuse of and discrimination against minority clans; restrictions on workers’ rights; forced labor; and child labor."