Gabon Publications

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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.

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."

Rwanda: Shrouded in secrecy Illegal detention and torture by Rwanda’s military intelligence
Author: Jean
Published: Oct 08, 2012

Amnesty International began to receive reports of enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment by Rwandan military intelligence in March 2010. This spate of human rights violations happened as military intelligence launched investigations into threats to national security in the run-up to the August 2010 presidential elections. Grenade attacks, rare in recent years, multiplied after February 2010. Some security analysts attributed them to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed opposition group based ineastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Growing tensions within the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) following the departure of the former army chief, General Kayumba Nyamwasa, in February 2010 also allegedly raised the spectre of potential security threats from within the army. As part of the Rwandan authorities’ investigations into security matters, individuals were arrested, often arbitrarily, by the military, sometimes acting in collaboration with the police. Those arrested were almost exclusively men aged between 20 and 45. Most of the cases documented here are of civilians, including demobilized military. Other cases include members of the Rwandan army or individuals suspected by the Rwandan authorities of belonging to the FDLR. After their arrest, the men were detained incommunicado and interrogated by military intelligence.

Rule of Law in Malawi: The Road to Recovery
Author: Jean
Published: Aug 31, 2012

Report of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Punished for being poor: Outdated offences in the DRC
Author: Dignité K. Bwiza
Published: Aug 27, 2012

by Dignité K. Bwiza, University of the Western Cape. This article discusses the status of out-dated offences in the DRC, and its interconnectedness with imprisonment and poverty.

"I can arrest you": The Zimbabwe Republic Police and your rights
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 15, 2012

This report is by Sokwanele, a popular protest underground movement based in Zimbabwe. "This report focuses on the risk of arrest at the hands of the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) under the command of Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who has publicly acknowledged his allegiance to ZANU-PF. Chihuri has served as police head since 1993 and his contract has been renewed by President Mugabe 13 times since 1997. Chihuri is a member of Joint Operations Command (JOC), the junta which continues to control Zimbabwe. In a country where the Rule of Law is no longer operational and the security forces operate with impunity, every citizen is vulnerable. A chance remark in a taxi, at a pub or even at a funeral could lead to arrest and possible incarceration in one of the country’s disgracefully maintained jails. Those who stand up for their rights and join demonstrations or canvass for political parties other than ZANU-PF face possible arrest, severe beatings and torture in custody."

Report on Children in Prison in South Africa
Author: Gwen
Published: May 30, 2012

This report is an update to the situational analysis of children in prison in South Africa prepared by the Community Law Centre in 1997. The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (Child Justice Act), promulgated on 1 April 2010, introduced a markedly different child justice regime than that which was previously regulated by the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the common law. This development, along with various others which have emerged since 1997 (e.g. child justice jurisprudence and government’s renewed focus on children in conflict with the law), has changed the way in which South Africa’s courts and correctional system deal with children in conflict with the law. Accordingly, an updated analysis on children in prison became necessary.

Report on Children in Prison in South Africa
Author: Jean
Published: May 28, 2012

"An important finding is that the policies in respect of the services and activities available to children are varied and inconsistent. Inconsistencies exist in relation to information provided at admission, orientation of new admissions, conditions of detention, the segregation of children from adults, access to education, access to recreation and preparation for release. ... Based on snapshot data, children remain awaiting trial in DCS facilities for an average of 70 days."

US Department of State Human Rights Report Central African Republic 2011
Author: Jean
Published: May 25, 2012

"Prison conditions were rudimentary, harsh, and substantially below international standards. Prison conditions outside Bangui generally were worse than those in the capital. Police, gendarme investigators, and presidential guards assigned as prison wardens continued to subject prison inmates to torture and other forms of inhuman, cruel, and degrading treatment. Most prisons lacked basic sanitation and ventilation, electric lighting, basic and emergency medical care, and sufficient access to potable water....According to BINUCA arbitrary arrest was a serious problem and was the most common human rights abuse committed by security forces during the year. Authorities continued to arrest individuals, particularly women, and charge them with witchcraft, an offense punishable by execution, although no one received the death penalty during the year. Prison officials at Bimbo Central Prison for women stated that accused witches were detained for their own safety, since village mobs sometimes killed suspected witches...Prolonged pretrial detention was a serious problem. For example, in November pretrial detainees constituted approximately 70 percent of Ngaragba Prison’s population and an estimated 60 percent of Bimbo Central Prison’s population. Detainees usually were informed of the charges against them; however, many waited in prison for several months before seeing a judge. Judicial inefficiency and corruption, as well as a shortage of judges and severe financial constraints on the judicial system, contributed to pretrial delays. Some detainees remained in prison for years because of lost files and bureaucratic obstacles."

Prisoners are bottom of the pile: The human rights of inmates in Ghana
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 25, 2012

"Overcrowding is severe in many of the country’s prisons; food and medical care are inadequate and many prisoners rely on family members and outside organizations for additional food, medicines and other necessities. Skin diseases are common; and tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and pneumonia are also prevalent but the prison health system is unable to guarantee adequate medical care within the prisons."

US Department of State Human Rights Report South Sudan 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 10, 2012

"Prison conditions were harsh and life threatening, and prisons were overcrowded. Rumbek Prison in Lakes State, for example, was designed for 200 inmates but reportedly held more than 550. Health care and sanitation were inadequate, and basic medical supplies and equipment were lacking. Prisoners generally received one meal per day and relied on family or friends for food. Potable water was limited"...."Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Estimates of the number of pretrial detainees in prison ranged from one-third to two-thirds of the prison population. The country’s lack of lawyers and judges contributed to lengthy pretrial detention. During the year the UNMISS Rule of Law, Judicial Systems, and Prison Advisory Unit started a justice sector mapping project to collect data on pretrial detainees, including those held for more than one year"

US Department of State Human Rights Report Botswana 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 10, 2012

"Conditions in the country’s 22 prisons and two detention centers for irregular immigrants remained poor due to overcrowding. The prison system held approximately 15-20 percent more inmates than its authorized capacity of 4,219. Overcrowding, which was worse in men’s prisons, constituted a serious health threat due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis."

US Department of State Human Rights Report Burkina Faso 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 04, 2012

"Conditions in prisons and detention facilities were harsh and at times life-threatening. Prisons were overcrowded, and medical care and sanitation were poor. Although regulations require the presence of a doctor and five nurses at the Maison d’Arret et de Correction de Ouagadougou’s (MACO) health unit, only three nurses are on duty to treat the 1,506 detainees." ... "Government officials estimated that 48 percent of prisoners nationwide were in pretrial status. In some cases detainees were held without charge or trial for longer periods than the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted of the alleged offense. A pretrial release (release on bail) system exists; however, the extent of its use was unknown. Human rights advocates stated that the justice system, including prisons, had unreliable mechanisms to track detainees and occasionally “lost” some of them and/or their paperwork."

US Department of State Human Rights Report Mozambique 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 26, 2012

"By law the maximum length of investigative detention without a warrant is 48 hours, during which time a detainee has the right to judicial review of the case. The individual may be detained another 90 days while the PIC continues its investigation. When a person is accused of a crime carrying a sentence of more than eight years, the individual may be detained up to an additional 84 days without being charged formally. With court approval, such detainees may be held for two more periods of 84 days each without charge while the police complete their investigation. The law provides that when the prescribed period for investigation has been completed and if no charges have been brought, the detainee must be released. .... 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 35 percent of inmates were in pretrial detention. The LDH reported in many cases authorities held inmates far beyond the maximum allowed under law before their trials began and that in the city and Province of Maputo alone in the first half of September there were 532 detainees that were being held beyond the legal limit."

US Department of State Human Rights Report Benin 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 26, 2012

"Prison conditions continued to be harsh and life threatening. Overcrowding and lack of proper sanitation and medical facilities posed risks to prisoners’ health. A July 2010 mediator of the republic’s (ombudsman) report on the condition in the nine civil prisons indicated that prisons were overcrowded, and malnutrition and disease were common."... "Approximately 75 percent of persons in prison were pretrial detainees; length of pretrial detention varied from two to 11 years. Inadequate facilities, poorly trained staff, and overcrowded dockets delayed the administration of justice."

US Department of State Human Rights Report Angola 2011
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 26, 2012

"According to the Ministry of Interior and press reports, the 34 prisons had 11,692 available places for 19,898 prisoners in November"..."There were 9,234 men in pretrial detention and 10,113 men serving a sentence. There were 551 women, of whom 253 were in pretrial detention and 298 were sentenced."..."The law states detainees should not be held longer than 24 hours, but many were held for days. Excessively long pretrial detention continued to be a serious problem. An inadequate number of judges and poor communication among authorities contributed to the problem. Police beat and then released detainees rather than prepare a formal court case. In some cases authorities held inmates in the prison system for up to two years before their trials began. NGOs reported that more than 50 percent of inmates were pretrial detainees, most of whom had not been formally charged. The government did not release detainees who had been held beyond the legal time limit, claiming that previous releases of pretrial detainees had resulted in an increase in crime."

Conversation on the Criminal Justice System in West Africa
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 02, 2012

A look at the Criminal Justice System with Professor Chidi Odinkalu of the Open Society Justice Initiative. Published in October 2010 by West Africa Insight, which is a Publication of West Africa Horizon Scanning - Project of the Centre For Democracy Development in West Africa.

Militias Threaten New Hope for Libya
Author: Jean
Published: Feb 20, 2012

This report by Amnesty International says that a year after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's militias are "largely out of control", with the use of torture ubiquitous and the country's new rulers unable – or unwilling – to prevent abuses. Thousands of detainees are being held in various prisons across the country. In at least 12 cases since October, prisoners have been tortured to death, including Omar Brebesh, Libya's former ambassador to France, who died in Tripoli last month.

Version authentique du Rapport de la Commission Nationale des droits de l'Homme sur les allégations de cas de torture faites par les personnes détenues dans le cadre de la procédure ouverte pour atteinte à la sûreté de l'Etat.
Author: Jean
Published: Feb 19, 2012

Version authentique du Rapport de la Commission Nationale des droits de l'Homme sur les allégations de cas de torture faites par les personnes détenues dans le cadre de la procédure ouverte pour atteinte à la sûreté de l'Etat. La Commission Nationale des Droits de l'Homme a adopté à sa séance plénière du 15 février 2012 le rapport sur les allégations de cas de torture faites par les personnes détenues dans le cadre de la procédure ouverte pour atteinte à la sûreté de l'Etat. Contrairement à ce qui a été adopté, le Gouvernement a fait publier un rapport travesti obtenu sur menaces. La Commission, fidèle à sa mission, tient à établir la vérité et publie par la même occasion le rapport dans sa forme originelle.

Eritrea Human Rights Watch Country Summary 2012
Author: Jean
Published: Jan 01, 2012

"Eritrea marked 20 years of independence in 2011, but its citizens remain victimized by one of the world’s most repressive governments. They suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention; torture; inhumane conditions of confinement; restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, and belief; and indefinite conscription and forced labor in national service."

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