PRI e-newsletter March 2017
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March 2017
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: 

New briefing: 'Children and violent extremism: international standards and responses from criminal justice systems'

This new PRI briefing gives an overview of what the international and regional standards say regarding the care and treatment of children who are suspected or convicted of violent extremist-related offences. It also looks at some examples of state responses and civil society interventions.

Tweet of the month


Prisoners are more likely to have TB, and more likely to be left behind in national responses to TB. #WorldTBDay #SDGs #prisonhealth

Follow PRI on Twitter

New blogs

From interrogating to interviewing suspects of terror: Towards a new mindset

In 2011, 10 years after a new approach of questioning criminal suspects was introduced in Norway called Investigative Interviewing, the country was struck by a terrorist attack which killed 77 people.

In the aftermath of the attack, Asbjørn Rachlew, a Police Superintendent in Oslo, was tasked with recruiting and advising a team to interview the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik. In this expert guest blog, Asbjørn explains why Investigative Interviewing represents the safest and most efficient approach to solve crime and to counter terrorism.

US Supreme Court ruling against executing intellectually disabled defendants

A recent Supreme Court judgement has enforced the prohibition against the execution of intellectually disabled defendants. In this guest blog, Robin M. Maher, a US lawyer who represents death-sentenced prisoners, gives an overview of the precedent case and why it is a reason for celebration.

Read more about PRI's work on campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty.

Justice for women who kill

In this guest blog, Sabrina Mahtani, co-founder of the Sierra Leone NGO AdvocAid, writes about a woman sentenced to death in Sierra Leone in 2010, aged 17, for killing her abusive partner. 

See PRI's study on this issue, Women who kill in response to domestic violence, co-published with Linklaters LLP.

Torture Prevention

Invite to Summer School 2017 for National Preventive Mechanisms: Detention monitoring applying the UN Nelson Mandela Rules

Applications are now open for members and staff of National Preventive Mechanisms for a Summer School in August 2017 on ‘Detention monitoring applying the UN Nelson Mandela Rules’, which will take place in Bristol, UK. 

This School is the second training event organised by Penal Reform International and the Human Rights Implementation Centre, University of Bristol, in partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture, with funding from the Danish Government. 

Download a flyer and draft agenda and find out to apply.

Protecting children against torture in detention: Global solutions for a global problem

This report, produced by the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Anti-Torture Initiative, consists of a compilation of articles submitted by global experts and practitioners in response to a groundbreaking thematic report by former United Nations Special Rapporteur, Juan E. Méndez, on torture of children deprived of liberty, its recommendations, and on the diverse practices that afflict violence – often in the form of torture and other ill-treatment – on children in different settings worldwide.

UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture highlights link between overuse of imprisonment and torture prevention

The link between the overuse of imprisonment and the prevention of torture and ill-treatment was put in the spotlight by the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) at the end of a recent visit to Hungary. The SPT urged the Government to immediately address the excessive use of detention, through the use of alternatives to detention.

Download PRI’s 10-point plan to address prison overcrowding.

Other News:

Norway: Norway's National Preventative Mechanism has published its annual report. Key themes include body searches, the right to information and women in prison.

Drug policy

Developments from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

In this article, 'Drugs at the UN: The needle inches forward', Ann Fordham of the International Drug Policy Consortium reports on the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, an annual meeting held in Vienna every year. She discusses how though the annual gathering may seem routine and unremarkable, 'upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the needle is inching forward in the global drug policy debate'.

Among the series of resolutions agreed on was a specific resolution calling attention to the harm reduction and HIV funding crisis. Read more about the resolution.

The Commission also agreed a resolution on the modalities for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019, following the Special Session (UNGASS) in 2016.

Read IDPC's Advocacy note on capitalising on the UNGASS on drugs.

Other news and reports

Australia: Former premiers, police commissioners and legal advocates have launched a push for decriminalisation in a new report: Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?
Iran: MPs Approve Bill to Reduce Punishment for Drug Crimes
Malaysia: Malaysia removes mandatory death penalty sentences for drug offences
Philippines: Government moves closer to re-instating death penalty for serious drug offences 
UK: Police tackling drug-related crime to hand out free heroin to addicts in supervised 'shooting galleries'
Conditions in detention and Nelson Mandela Rules
Short Guide on the UN Nelson Mandela Rules now in seven languages

PRI's Short Guide on the UN Nelson Mandela Rules is now available in Thai, as well as six other languages.

Other resources on the Mandela Rules include Nelson Mandela Rules: An animated introduction, available in English, Arabic, Armenian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and the Essex paper 3: Initial guidance on the interpretation and implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules.
Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world

Overcrowding, inhumane and degrading detention conditions and disproportionate harm to marginalised groups are some of the consequences of the rapid, unrelenting growth of imprisonment worldwide, according to this new report, published by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research and Fair Trials.
Latest Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) published

The number of people held in European prisons decreased by 6.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015, although prison overcrowding remained a problem in 15 countries, according to the latest Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE).

European Court of Human Rights rules that incarcerating prisoners far from their relatives violates their right to family life

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Polyakova and Others v. Russia, the court held that decisions to imprison individuals thousands of miles away from their families was a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Pre-trial justice and crime trends
UN concerned at moves to criminalise homelessness in Australia

Amendments proposed to a local law in the Australian city of Melbourne would trigger serious international human rights concern, said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing. The Special Rapporteur stated that 'the criminalisation of homelessness is deeply concerning and violates international human rights law' and would penalise them 'because they are poor and have no place to live'.

PRI to implement new project to support judicial reform in Kazakhstan and provide access to justice for vulnerable groups

On 1 March, a new project was launched by the EU and implemented by PRI in Kazakhstan to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups. The project aims to build the capacity of civil society organisations to support ongoing judicial reforms in accordance with international standards. Read the press release.

US: Study finds drop in crime rate linked to higher rates of immigration

A new report from The Sentencing Project finds that foreign-born residents of the United States, regardless of legal status, commit crime less often than native-born citizens, and so higher levels of immigration may have contributed to the historic drop in crime rate. It concludes that policies that further restrict immigration are not effective crime-control strategies.

Other news

Jordan: Proposals from a royal committee to reform Jordan’s justice system are an important step forward
Sierra Leone: Lack of vehicles to transport prisoners between correctional centres and the courts leads to delays in the judicial process and unnecessary jail time for prisoners
UK: Youth sentencing to take child's upbringing into account
US: Research shows that states that have raised the age of jurisdiction - the point where a teenager is treated as an adult - have seen decreases in crime
US: Study shows that black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be later found innocent of the crimes

Women in the criminal justice system

Women and drugs

The International Narcotics Control Board's annual report includes a thematic chapter on women and drugs, with some information on female prisoners and their children. The chapter can be accessed here.

Brazil’s illegal treatment of women in prison

Human Rights Watch reports that most women prisoners in Brazil are housed in wings within male prisons, where the risk of abuse is high and access to healthcare is limited. HRW calls for much greater use of alternatives to prison, especially for pregnant women and women with children, and urges that prison conditions in female prisons should be brought into compliance with international standards and Brazil's own laws.

Sign up to PRI's Quarterly E-bulletin on the Bangkok Rules/Women in the criminal justice system.
Other news and research:

Guatemala: First rehabilitation and reintegration centre opened for women prisoners
Kyrgyzstan: Female prisoners face harsh future, as experts say that imprisoning women has far-reaching societal repercussions
Panama: Women prisoners making clothes in prison
Scotland: Female prison reform undermined by short custodial sentences
UK: Number of women being arrested leaps 50 per cent in a year after police told to crack down on petty crime
Penal reform news in the press and resources

Association for the Prevention of Torture: The Detention Focus database, designed for detention monitors, is now available in Spanish (as well as English and French). 
Australia: Indigenous interpreter shortage adding to high incarceration rates for Aboriginal people
Brazil: Detaining juveniles in overcrowded conditions may be contributing to violence in Brazilian society
Brazil: The Organization of American States questions Brazil Ministry of Justice about prison violence
Canada: Prison watchdog sees sharp decline in use of solitary confinement
Canada: Prisons can reduce use of segregation dramatically, and safely
Colombia: Prison crisis escalating as ombudsman calls for closures
Costa Rica: Three new comprehensive care units to accommodate 1,600 prisoners in spaces suitable for work and study
Cyprus: Changes have reduced prison suicides
Denmark: Increase in prisoners committing suicide
Denmark: More minors being imprisoned
Gambia: Almost 100 prisoners freed from overcrowded jails
Guatemala: Two killed, several injured in riot at prison
Guatemala: Police rescue hostages from rioting youth jail inmates
Haiti: UN expert flags 'daily violations' in prisons
Ireland: Mountjoy training unit to be knocked down and rebuilt to accommodate older inmates in prison
Ireland: 49 prisoners are still slopping out in Irish prisons as of January 2017
Jamaica: All correctional officers and recruits to be polygraphed in prison corruption clampdown
Myanmar: Despite calls for reform, prisoners continue hard labour in shackles
New Zealand: Chief ombudsman criticises excessive use of prisoner restraint
New Zealand: Government announces plans to strengthen prisons inspection regime
Nigeria: Controller General confirms that 68,259 people are held in prison
Philippines: Images showing naked prisoners cause uproar
Russia: The number of people in penitentiary facilities has gone down to the lowest level since collapse of the USSR
Taiwan: Ministry of Justice considering changes to prison policies to better rehabilitate prisoners and facilitate their reintegration into society after their release or parole
UK: Prisoners with serious mental health problems face urgent treatment delays
UK: Child's solitary confinement faces High Court challenge
UK: Prison fires in England and Wales at record high
UK: Self-harming incidents triple at immigration removal centre
Uruguay: Government takes steps to provide more opportunities and rehabilitation in prison in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and combat organised crime
Prison governance: An examination of the phenomenon of prison self-governance – when inmates are imprisoned but left to their own devices
Copyright © 2017 Penal Reform International. All rights reserved.

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