PRI e-newsletter July-August 2016
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July-August 2016
Welcome to Penal Reform International's monthly e-newsletter, a round-up of PRI and other penal reform news from around the world and a variety of criminal justice and human rights resources.

The views expressed in the news items below are not necessarily those of PRI.
In this month's edition

 In the spotlight: Nelson Mandela Rules updates

Prison authorities from across South East Asia discuss implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules

Following the adoption of the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – the Nelson Mandela Rules in December, consultations are being held around the world to raise awareness and to seek the views of national policy-makers and prison authorities on implementation. 

PRI has hosted consultations in Uganda and in India. In early August, it was the turn of 11 South East Asian countries who gathered at a meeting in Bangkok hosted jointly by the Thailand Institute of Justice and PRI. 

Read a summary of discussions here.

Read a blog by PRI’s Programme Officer, Olivia Rope, reporting on how participants at the consultation considered lack of resources would affect implementation and how limited resources could be deployed for maximum impact.

New article: ‘The relevance of the Mandela Rules in Europe’

PRI’s Policy Director, Andrea Huber, writing in the ERA Forum, provides an overview of the standards provided by the Nelson Mandela Rules in comparison to the European Prison Rules, demonstrating the added value of the Mandela Rules for guidance on prisoner file management, healthcare, disciplinary sanctions and restrictions, solitary confinement as well as inspection and monitoring.
New language - Swahili - for PRI’s Short Guide to the Nelson Mandela Rules

Translated by ICRC Kenya. A French edition will also be available shortly.

Coming soon!

Please note that initial guidance on interpreting the Nelson Mandela Rules by the 'Essex' expert group will be published on PRI's website shortly.
Our tweet of the month

This month from PRI:

"Being poor is not a crime - great animation from CSPRI on effects of prison for offences that shouldn't be." …

Follow us!
New expert blogs

What are the implications of television cameras in the  courtroom?

Dr Ruth Herz, German judge and now visiting professor at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, took on the role of a ‘TV judge’ on the German TV show ‘Jugendgericht’ between 2001 and 2005. In this expert blog for PRI, she draws on her own experience to examine the effects of bringing televisual media into the trial process.

What can restorative justice offer victims of domestic violence?

Dr Marian Liebmann, international expert and consultant on restorative justice, explores the arguments for and against restorative justice for domestic violence cases, concluding that it can in some circumstances serve as an alternative to court if stringent preconditions are met.
Global advocacy
Preventing radicalisation in prisons discussed at expert roundtable in Kazakhstan
PRI Central Asia and the Penal Committee, Ministry of Interior, Kazakhstan, supported by the US embassy, jointly organised a roundtable to discuss strategies for preventing radicalisation in prisons. The roundtable was attended by experts from the United Kingdom, USA and Jordan, and national experts and national prison officials.

An evaluation and analysis of the situation in Kazakhstan together with recommendations for action is being produced.

Download the post-event press release in Russian or Kazakh.

The right of prisoners to vote: a global overview

This paper presents the findings from a 2015 multi‐jurisdictional survey for PRI by eight international law firms – facilitated by Advocates for International Development (A4ID) – which reviewed the extent of (dis)enfranchisement of detained persons in dozens of jurisdictions worldwide and the conditions under which voting rights were restricted.
The research highlights that although rarely used as a sanction on its own, in approximately 45 of the jurisdictions conviction to imprisonment automatically resulted in disenfranchisement.
Related news: California bill restores right to vote for felons transferred from prison to county jails
Conditions in detention
The Lancet has published a series of articles on HIV and related infections in prisoners

The series of articles and commentary was published in July to coincide with the AIDS 2016 conference in Durban. Articles include:
  • Global burden of HIV, viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis in prisoners and detainees
  • Clinical care of incarcerated people with HIV, viral hepatitis, or tuberculosis
  • Prevention of transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and tuberculosis in prisoners
  • HIV, prisoners, and human rights
  • HIV and tuberculosis in prisons in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The perfect storm: incarceration and the high-risk environment perpetuating transmission of HIV, hepatitis C virus, and tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
All content can be downloaded here

Other news and resources

UK: A new report by the Prison Reform Trust – Social or systemic neglect? Older people on release from prison – says that there is inadequate support for the resettlement of older people which is increasing the risk of future reoffending.
Australia: Northern Territory prison's treatment of intellectually disabled Aboriginal man referred to UN
Canada: Canadian prisoner justified in stabbing fellow inmate because security in jail is horrible
Central America: Prison overcrowding highlights swamped justice in Central America
Czech Republic: New prison capacities sought in Czech Republic
Liberia: Court releases arrested ‘Zogos’ due to overcrowded prisons
New Zealand: Corrections reviews all prison suicides for the last five years
The Philippines: Philippines jail overcrowding: Photos reveal inmates take turns to sleep
Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone: Prison reforms bring no relief
Switzerland: Court dismisses prisoners’ pleas of inhumane conditions
Turkey: Overcrowded Turkish prisons are reaching their breaking point amid influx of thousands of detainees
Uganda: Inmates rise by 4,400 in one year - prisons boss
USA: Private federal prisons more dangerous, damning DoJ investigation reveals

Rehabilitation and reintegration Zimbabwe: Knitting machines boost for prisons
Women in the criminal justice system
PRI supports training on the UN Bangkok Rules for Senior Correctional Staff in the ASEAN Region

In August, the Thailand Institute of Justice organised a two-week training on the UN Bangkok Rules on women prisoners and offenders for senior correctional staff across South East Asia.

The training was led by expert consultant, Jo Baker, and by Dr Barbara Owen, professor of criminology at University of California State, Fresno and supported by Olivia Rope, PRI Programme Officer.

All participants produced concrete Action Plans as frameworks for implementing the Bangkok Rules in their countries.

UN Working Group releases new report on discrimination against women in health and safety

This report by the UN Working Group on discrimination against women notes the specific physical and mental health issues facing women deprived of their liberty, unequal access to hygiene and health services and the ongoing use of prohibited practices such as shackling during labour.

The report was presented to the Human Rights Council at its 32nd session in June.

PRI provided information to the Working Group for this report.

New blog for PRI: Peru has adopted a protocol for the treatment of women in prison based on the UN Bangkok Rules

Independent researcher, Maria Eva Dorigo, explains the significance of Peru’s April 2016 approval of a resolution to adopt and implement a new Protocol for the treatment of women prisoners based on the UN Bangkok Rules.

Other news and resources

Uganda: Launching the Jones Day Lang’ata Women and Children Library and the Phoebe Asiyo Legal Aid Clinic
Pakistan: Female inmates enduring miserable prison conditions
UK: Independent board gives verdict on New Hall women’s prison near Wakefield
USA: A new report by the Vera Institute - Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform - provides a portrait of women offenders: backgrounds and shared characteristics, types of crimes committed, experiences of imprisonment and the subsequent effects on their lives post-release. See also PRI’s research series Who are women prisoners? covering 7 countries.
Death penalty abolition
New report: UN Secretary General on question of the death penalty

The Annual report of the UN Secretary General on the question of Death Penalty finds that despite the actions of a minority of states, the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty is continuing. It provides an overview of changes in national laws and practices, including initiatives to restrict the use of the death penalty as well as measures to guarantee the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.

The report includes a section on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death, calling on states to provide psychological and other forms of support to children with parents sentenced to death.

Other news and resources

China: Death penalty only used on ‘very small number’ of criminals
Indonesia: UN appeals for halting imminent execution of prisoners in Indonesia
Syria: Syrian prison erupts in rioting over planned executions
USA: Delaware's death penalty law ruled unconstitutional by high court
Torture prevention
Major new study commissioned by APT shows that torture prevention measures do work

A major new study into the effectiveness of torture prevention measures commissioned by the Association for the Prevention of Torture has now been published. The study covers 14 countries over a 30 year period.

It concludes that preventive mechanisms, such as prison monitoring, and prosecuting perpetrators do contribute to a reduction in torture, but that complaints mechanisms on the other hand have little measurable effect. It also found that the first few hours after arrest – in police custody –  are most dangerous and are therefore where the application of effective safeguards can most significantly reduce the risk of torture.

Read a blog by APT Secretary General, Mark Thomson.
The study can be purchased here.

UN Special Rapporteur on torture releases report on the use of torture and other ill-treatment investigations

This new report highlights the high risk of torture during interviews by law enforcement and advocates the development of a universal protocol identifying a set of standards for non-coercive interviewing methods and procedural safeguards for all interviews by law enforcement officials, military and intelligence personnel and other bodies with investigative mandates.

This is the last report by the current Special Rapporteur, Juan E Mendez, who took on this mandate in 2010. PRI is very grateful for his commitment and excellent work towards tackling torture and ill-treatment and also for a fruitful working relationship.

New report: Dignity debased - forced anal examinations in homosexuality prosecutions

This new research by Human Rights Watch reports on the use of anal examinations on people arrested by offences on homosexuality-related charges. Such examinations violate international law, including the UN Convention against Torture.

Other news and resources

Australia prison abuse could violate torture conventions - U.N
Other news and resources
Drug policies

Australia: Canberra jail may get supervised injecting room under prison syringe scheme
The Philippines: Over 300 NGOs call on the United Nations to take immediate action on the hundreds of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders in the Philippines

Pre-trial justice

Costa Rica: Hell spilling over: Is Costa Rica's preventive prison system in need of reform?
Honduras: New prison data backs reform of Honduras detention rules
USA: US Justice Department says holding poor defendants who cannot make bail is 'unconstitutional'

Justice for children

India: How juveniles are trapped in criminal justice system
Morocco: Nine injured in Morocco juvenile prison riot
USA: Four 'juvenile lifers' in Pennsylvania jails since 1970s are granted parole
This development is the result of a US Supreme Court decision earlier this year (Montgomery v Louisiana) which said that its 2012 ruling that mandatory ‘life without parole’ for under-18s was unconstitutional, can also be applied retroactively. The Chair of PRI’s Board, Professor Dirk van Zyl Smit, provides some background on this here.


Singapore: Singapore wants a prison without guards
USA: PTSD affects 36 per cent of male prison officers, federal data reveal

For more on staffing issues globally, see Prison staff: Overworked and underpaid?, the pull-section in PRI's latest Global Prison Trends report.
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