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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."

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."

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