Liberia Publications

A sort criterion
US Department of State Human Rights Report: Mozambique 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Excessively long pretrial detention continued to be a serious problem, due in part to an inadequate number of judges and prosecutors and poor communication among authorities. Approximately 37 percent of inmates were in pretrial detention. The LDH reported that in many cases the length of pretrial detention far exceeded the maximum allowed by law."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Guinea-Bissau 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but the judiciary had little independence and was barely operational. Judges were poorly trained, inadequately and irregularly paid, and subject to corruption. Judges went on strike several times during the year to protest their pay and working conditions. Courts and judicial authorities were also frequently biased and nonproductive. The attorney general had little protection from political pressure. A lack of materials and infrastructure often delayed trials and convictions were extremely rare. Authorities respected court orders when they were issued."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Namibia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention remained a significant problem. In 2010 approximately 8 percent of the general prison population was awaiting trial. At Windhoek’s main prison, prison officials estimated that figure to be closer to 20 percent during the year. The lack of qualified magistrates and other court officials, high cost to the government of providing legal aid, slow or incomplete police investigations, and continued postponement of cases resulted in a serious backlog of criminal cases and delays of years between arrest and trial. During the year the High Court and Prosecutor-General’s Office continued to implement proposals made in 2010 to improve the pace of administering justice, including granting increased case management powers to judges."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Zambia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Prolonged pretrial detention was a problem. Approximately 30 percent of prison inmates were in pretrial detention. On average detainees spent an estimated three years in pretrial detention, which often exceeded the length of the prison sentence that corresponded to their alleged crime. For example, on August 18, the High Court freed Mateo Mfula Kapotwe, who had been held for 11 years on charges of murder before the state decided not to prosecute him. Approximately one-third of persons in incarceration had not been convicted of a crime or had not received a trial date. Broad rules of procedure gave wide latitude to prosecutors and defense attorneys to delay trials. Judicial inefficiency, lack of resources, and lack of trained personnel also contributed to prolonged pretrial detention."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Madagascar 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"The law provides for a presumption of innocence; however, this was often overlooked. The constitution and law provide defendants with the right to a full defense at every stage of the proceedings, and trials are public. While the law provides that juries can be used in all cases, they were used only in labor disputes. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, to be informed of the charges against them, to call and confront witnesses, and to present evidence. The government is required to provide counsel for all detainees held on criminal charges who cannot afford their own attorney; however, many citizens were not aware of this right, nor made aware of it by authorities. Defendants who do not request or cannot afford counsel generally are given very little time to prepare their case. Attorneys have access to government-held evidence, but this right does not extend to defendants without attorneys. Legislation outlining defendants’ rights does not specifically refer to the right not to be compelled to testify but includes the right to be assisted by another person during the investigation/trial. Defendants have the right to appeal convictions. Although the law extends them to all citizens without exception, these rights were routinely denied as the de facto government prolonged incarceration of suspects for weeks without charge and continually postponed hearings while denying bail."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Mauritius 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, and trials are public. The law provides for the right to a fair trial and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them with free interpretation, as necessary. Juries are used only in murder trials. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials and to consult an attorney in a timely manner. An attorney is provided at public expense when indigent defendants face felony charges. Defendants can confront or question witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. Defendants and attorneys have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases, and defendants have the right of appeal. The courts respected these rights, although an extensive case backlog delayed the process, particularly for obtaining government-held evidence. The law extends these rights to all citizens. Defendants have the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare defense. The law does not provide for the right to remain silent."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: São Tomé and Príncipe 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention greatly hindered investigations in criminal cases since delays often made it hard to uncover the facts and evidence of a case. Inadequate court facilities and a shortage of trained judges and lawyers contributed to lengthy pretrial detention. According to the director of the Sao Tome Prison, 25 percent of the country’s prisoners were awaiting trial during the year. Authorities held approximately 15 pretrial detainees for more than a year."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Senegal 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"At the end of 2011, 3,352 persons (44 percent of the total prison population) were in pretrial detention. The average time between the filing of charges and trial was two years. Trial delays were caused by judicial backlogs and absenteeism of judges. The law states that an accused person may not be held in pretrial detention for more than six months for minor crimes; however, authorities routinely held persons in custody until a court demanded their release. In cases involving allegations of murder, threats to state security, and embezzlement of public funds, there are no limits on the length of pretrial detention. In most cases, the length of pretrial detention was less than the length of sentence received. Criminals sentenced to prison terms received credit for time served in pretrial detention."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Seychelles 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Defendants have the right to a fair public trial, are considered innocent until proven guilty, and have the right to be present at their trials and to appeal. Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them. Only cases involving murder or treason used juries. The constitution makes provision for defendants to present evidence and witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses in court. Defendants have the right to access government-held evidence; however, in practice, such requests were often delayed. The law provides the right of defendants to consult with an attorney of choice or to have one provided at public expense in a timely manner and to be provided adequate time and facilities to do so. These rights were enjoyed equally by all citizens."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Swaziland 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Defendants enjoy the right to be informed of charges promptly, in detail, and in a language that the defendant understands. The constitution provides for the right to a fair public trial without undue delay, except when exclusion of the public is deemed necessary in the “interests of defense, public safety, public order, justice, public morality, the welfare of persons under the age of 18 years, or the protection of the private lives of the persons concerned in the proceedings.” The judiciary generally enforced this right in practice. There is no trial by jury. Court-appointed counsel is provided to indigent defendants at government expense in capital cases or if the crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Defendants and their attorneys have access to relevant government-held evidence, generally obtained during pretrial consultations from the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Defendants may question witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants and prosecutors have the right of appeal up to the Supreme Court."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Togo 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"The judicial system employs both traditional law and the Napoleonic Code in trying criminal and civil cases. Defendants officially enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, to a fair trial without undue delay, to communicate with an attorney of their choice, and to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. However, these rights were often not respected, and there were many delays in the justice system. Trials were open to the public, juries were used, and judicial procedures generally were respected. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials and the right to counsel and to appeal. All defendants have the right to an attorney, and the bar association sometimes provided attorneys for the indigent in criminal cases. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, may confront witnesses, and may present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. Defendants have the right not to testify or confess guilt. Those convicted have the right to appeal. Authorities respected these rights. Defendants have the right to access government-held evidence relevant to their cases, but this right was not respected. The law did not extend these rights to persons tried in the military court."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Malawi 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 21, 2013

"Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to a public trial but not to a trial by jury. The Ministry of Justice continued its indefinite suspension of jury trials in murder cases, since murder suspects sometimes were incarcerated for years awaiting trial by jury. Juries were used in other types of cases. Child Justice Courts in Blantyre, Mzuzu, and Zomba handled cases of child offenders. The law provides for an accused to be informed of charges by a court within 48 hours. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial, are entitled to an attorney, and, if indigent, to have an attorney provided at state expense. Such assistance generally was limited to homicide cases. Defendants have the right to present and challenge evidence and witnesses and have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. By law, they are not compelled to testify or confess guilt. The law extends the above rights to all persons. All persons have the right of appeal; however, appeals often were delayed for years and sometimes never addressed by the higher court."

CSPRI Newsletter No. 43 - March 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 10, 2013

This newsletter is a continuation of the discussion in newsletter 42. The discussion covers the right to redress for victims of torture and other ill-treatment, and considers whether the new international guidelines will provide better access to redress for victims at a domestic level.

30 Days/Dae/Izinsuku December February 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 01, 2013

This edition of 30 days covers news items from February 2013, covering prison conditions, sentencing and parole, unsentenced prisoners, and news from other African countries.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: South Sudan 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Feb 04, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem, due largely to the lack of lawyers and judges, difficulties of locating witnesses, and the absence of a strong mechanism to compel witness attendance in court. The length of pretrial detention commonly equaled or exceeded the sentence for the alleged crime. Estimates of the number of pretrial detainees ranged from one-third to two-thirds of the prison population."

Recent Publications: Ernest Ojukwu et al Handbook on Prison Pre-trial Detainee Law Clinic
Author: Jean
Published: Feb 01, 2013

This book review was published in AHRLJ Volume 13 No 2 2013. The Handbook is a useful tool for navigating the relatively new idea of pre-trial law clinics in Nigeria. It presents the most relevant information in a reader-friendly fashion. Although there are a number of missing fundamentals, it is still a veritable resource material for those seeking to understand how pre-trial law clinics work in Nigeria.

Newsletter 4: Insight into pretrial detention in Mozambique; Zimbabwe's draft Constitution and pre-trial processes; South African court finds state liable for pre-trial detainee getting tuberculosis in prison
Author: Jean
Published: Jan 30, 2013

In this fourth PPJA newsletter Tina Lorizzo provides some insight into pre-trial detention in Mozambique, finding that Maputo's prisons are "tired"; Jean Redpath considers whether Zimbabwe's draft Constitution provides enough protection against abuse of pre-trial process?; and Clare Ballard and Jean Redpath discuss how the South African Constitutional Court decision which found the state liable for a pre-trial detainee getting tuberculosis in prison is a victory for rights but creates uncertainty in the law of delict.

Republic of Cameroon: Make Human Rights a Reality (Amnesty)
Author: Jean
Published: Jan 16, 2013

"During visits of New Bell and Kondengui prisons, Amnesty International noted conditions in both prisons which amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. In New Bell, the representatives came across five inmates who had their legs shackled in August 2010. The inmates said that they had been shackled for periods ranging from several weeks to several months. The shackles had been welded together and were permanently fixed to their legs. The shackles had visibly caused lacerations on the legs of the affected detainees. Senior officials at the Ministry of Justice told Amnesty International that they had not authorized this and were not aware of the use of shackles to restrain inmates. Prison authorities told Amnesty International that the inmates had been shackled after they had attempted to escape, which the prisoners denied. Prison officials at Kondengui and New Bell told Amnesty International delegates in December 2012 that shackles continued to be used, particularly against violent inmates or those who attempted to escape. However, use of shackles or leg irons breaches the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states at Rule 33 that "Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and strait-jackets, shall never be applied as a punishment. Furthermore, chains or irons shall not be used as restraints". During their visit of Kondengui prison, Amnesty International found two wings which had particularly harsh conditions and which breached human rights standards. Wing 9 was known to the detainees as "Kosovo" (named after the war there). The wing, with a population of 1,402 in December 2012, consisted of 27 cells which were estimated to be on average approximately 30 square metres. Each cell held an average of 50 inmates. In December 2012, Wing 8 of a similar size as wing 9, had a population of 1.038. Because the cells did not provide enough space for all residents to sleep at the same time, many of the inmates slept in the open space outside the cell without a roof or bedding. This space also served as a kitchen for the inmates. Numerous detainees met by Amnesty International in this wing complained about their detention conditions. In a subsequent meeting with officials at the Ministry of Justice, Amnesty International urged the authorities to improve detention conditions in prison in general and Wing number 9 in particular."

CSPRI Newsletter No. 42 - December 2012 / January 2013
Author: Jean
Published: Jan 12, 2013

This newsletter discusses the right to redress for victims of torture and other ill-treatment, and considers whether the new international guidelines will provide better access to redress for victims at a domestic level.