Guinea Publications

A sort criterion
Protecting the right to personal liberty in Namibia: Constitutional, delictual and comparative perspectives
Author: Jean
Published: Feb 01, 2014

This article was published in AHRLJ Volume 14 No 2 2014. Although the recent Supreme Court of Namibia cases of Alexander v Minister of Home Affairs & Others and Gawanas v Government of the Republic of Namibia were not merely decided under the Criminal Procedure Act 1977 (Namibia), but in terms of special statutes, namely, the Extradition Act 11 of 1996 and the Mental Health Act 18 of 1973 respectively, they nonetheless involved the determination by the Court of the individual right to personal liberty in terms of article 7 of the Constitution of Namibia of 1990, thus bringing the Court face to face with balancing the right to personal liberty against the public interest in the enforcement of the law. Alexander could properly be described as consisting of two parts: the trial judge’s treatment of the limitation clause in the Namibian Constitution, which survived on appeal, and the Supreme Court judgment which turned on the problem of granting bail in the circumstances of extradition proceedings. While Gawanas is a classic illustration of bureaucratic negligence, both cases involve the protection of personal liberty of the individual as against legislative interference and infringement by the agents of state. The lesson emerging therefrom is that the protection of personal liberty under the Namibian Constitution extends to persons, to citizens, foreigners within Namibia and to someone with some form of disability. The other lesson emanating from this study is that a person whose right to personal liberty or dignity has been infringed can ventilate that breach by way of judicial review, contesting the legality of the law or under the principles of administrative justice in the Constitution or the law of delict, alleging wrongfulness, fault and damage.

Survey of Detention Visiting Mechanisms in Africa
Author: Jean
Published: Dec 03, 2013

People held in places of detention are at risk of suffering violations of human rights because they are usually detained out of sight and their well-being is not prioritised by states. Domestic and international laws prescribe the procedures through which and conditions under which people may be held in detention. The function of detention oversight institutions is to ensure that state institutions comply with these human rights laws and are held accountable for any non-compliance.

Understanding impunity in the South African law enforcement agencies
Author: Jean
Published: Aug 22, 2013

The probability that law enforcement officials will be held accountable for gross rights violations is very low. The reasons for this are discussed in this report. The report argues that there is no single reason for the current situation but rather that a myriad of factors, structural and functional, contribute to a greater or a lesser degree to the current situation. The authors contend that it would be inaccurate and superficial depiction to lay the blame at the door of only one institution, as this would ignore the effect of other factors. Moreover, the problem of rights violations and concomitant impunity is widespread and pervasive, and for this reason it is increasingly unconvincing for government to explain such cases as being the work of "a few rotten apples".

No Justice for the Poor
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 09, 2013

This is a Preliminary Study of the Law and Practice Relating to Arrests for Nuisance-Related Offences in Blantyre, Malawi, by the Southern African Litigation Centre and the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), funded by the Open Society Foundation for Southern Africa and the United Nations Democracy Fund.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Algeria 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: May 28, 2013

"The constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, but in practice authorities did not always respect legal provisions regarding defendants’ rights. Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney, provided at public expense if necessary. Most trials are public and all are nonjury. Defendants can confront or question witnesses against them or present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. In the past, reports indicated that courts occasionally denied defendants and their attorneys access to government-held evidence, but there were very few reports of such incidents during the year. Defendants have the right to appeal. The testimony of men and women has equal weight under the law."

The Socio-economic Impact of Pretrial Detention in Sierra Leone
Author: Jean
Published: May 23, 2013

This study, carried out by Timap for Justice and Prison Watch Sierra Leone, in collaboration with UNDP and the Open Society Justice Initiative, found that pretrial detention primarily affects average Sierra Leoneans; breadwinners who are poor or on low-incomes, as well as their families. The study has detailed findings on the demography of detainees and the social, health, and human rights effects of pretrial detention on detainees.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Tanzania 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 10, 2013

"The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the judiciary remained underfunded, corrupt (see section 4), inefficient (especially in the lower courts), and subject to executive influence. Court clerks reportedly continued to take bribes to decide whether to open cases and to hide or misdirect the files of those accused of crimes. According to news reports, magistrates of lower courts occasionally accepted bribes to determine the outcome of cases."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Gambia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 05, 2013

"The law provides for the presumption of innocence, a fair and public trial without undue delay, and adequate time and facilities to prepare defense. Under the law no one is compelled to testify or confess guilt. Trials were generally open to the public, unless closed-court sessions were necessary to protect the identity of a witness. In one instance, NIA officials denied accredited diplomats entrance to the final session of the Supreme Court appeal hearing regarding seven former government officials sentenced to death for treason (see section 1.e.). Juries were not used. Defendants can consult an attorney and have the right to confront witnesses and evidence against them, present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, and appeal judgment to a higher court. The law extends these rights to all citizens, and no persons were denied these rights during the year; however, detainees were rarely informed of their rights or the reasons for their arrest or detention, according to Amnesty International. For example, outspoken Muslim cleric Imam Bakawsu Fofana, who was arrested on May 31 and held for nine days without charge, was never informed of the reason he was detained."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Mali 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 04, 2013

"The law stipulates that charged prisoners must be tried within one year, but this limit frequently was exceeded, and lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Lengthy trial procedures, large numbers of detainees, judicial inefficiency, corruption, and staff shortages contributed to lengthy pretrial detention. Individuals sometimes remained in prison for several years before their cases came to trial. Many individuals could not afford bail. Approximately 45 percent of the prison population consisted of persons awaiting trial. Available data do not include prisons located in the country’s northern regions."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Nigeria 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 04, 2013

"The constitution provides for public trials in the regular court system and individual rights in criminal and civil cases. The constitution does not provide for juries or the right to access government-held evidence. However, the criminal procedure act provides for this access, and the defendant can apply to access government-held evidence either directly or through a lawyer. Defendants enjoy the right to presumption of innocence, to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges (with free interpretation as necessary), to a fair and public trial without undue delay, to communicate with an attorney of choice (or to have one provided at public expense), to adequate time and facilities to prepare defense, to confront witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence, not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and to appeal. Authorities did not always respect these rights. Although an accused person is entitled to counsel of his choice, no law prevents a trial from going forward without counsel, except for certain offenses for which the penalty is death. The Legal Aid Act provides for the appointment of counsel in such cases and stipulates that a trial should not go forward without it. Defendants were held in prison awaiting trial for well beyond the term allowed in the constitution (see section 1.c.). Human rights groups alleged terror suspects detained by the military were denied their right to access to legal representation, due process, or the opportunity to be heard by a judicial authority."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Sudan 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 02, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention was common. The large numbers of detainees and judicial inefficiency, such as the failure of judges to appear for court, resulted in trial delays. For example, at year’s end Jalila Khamis Kuku, a teacher and activist held in detention since March, was awaiting trial on several charges that carried the death penalty. Authorities changed the time and location of his trial on several occasions without explanation."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Rwanda 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 02, 2013

"The law provides for a presumption of innocence, but government officials did not always adhere to this in practice. The law requires defendants be informed promptly and in detail of the charges in a language they comprehend; however, judges postponed numerous hearings because this had not occurred. Defendants have the right to a fair trial without undue delay, but there were an insufficient number of prosecutors, judges, and courtrooms to hold trials within a reasonable period of time. In the ordinary court system (vice military and community justice “gacaca” courts) the law provides for public trials, although courts closed proceedings in cases involving minors, to protect witnesses, or at the request of defendants. Judges, rather than juries, try all cases. Defendants have the right to communicate with an attorney of choice, although few could afford private counsel. Minors are guaranteed legal representation by law. The law does not provide for an attorney at state expense for indigent defendants; however, the Rwandan Bar Association and 36 other member organizations of the Legal Aid Forum provided legal assistance to some indigent defendants, although they lacked the resources to provide defense counsel to all in need. The law requires that defendants have adequate time and facilities to prepare their defense, and judges routinely granted requests to extend preparation time. Defendants and their attorneys have the right to access government-held evidence relevant to their cases, but courts did not always respect this right. Defendants have the right to be present at trial, confront witnesses against them, and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. The law protects defendants from being compelled to testify or confess guilt, and judges generally respected that right during trial. However, there were numerous reports SSF coerced suspects into confessing guilt and of judges accepting such confessions despite defendants’ protests. The law provides for the right to appeal, and this provision was respected."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Kenya 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 01, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a serious problem and contributed to overcrowding in prisons. Some defendants served more than the statutory term for their alleged offense in pretrial detention. Approximately 36 percent of inmates were pretrial detainees. The government claimed that the average time spent in pretrial detention on capital charges was 16 months; however, there were reports that many detainees spent two to three years in prison before their trials were completed. Police from the arresting locale are responsible for serving court summonses and picking up detainees from prison each time a court schedules a hearing on a case. Due to a shortage of manpower and resources, police often failed to appear or lacked the means to transport detainees, who then were forced to wait for the next hearing of their cases."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Equatorial Guinea 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Apr 01, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem, and many of those incarcerated were pretrial detainees; the exact number was unavailable. Although prison authorities were required to provide monthly lists of prisoners and detainees to the Ministry of Justice, this did not occur. Inefficient judicial procedures, corruption, lack of monitoring, and inadequate staffing contributed to the problem."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Morocco 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 28, 2013

"Although the government claimed that accused persons were generally brought to trial within two months, prosecutors may request as many as five additional two-month extensions of pretrial detention. Consequently, pretrial detentions may last as long as one year. There were reports that authorities routinely held detainees beyond the one-year limit. Government officials attributed these delays to inefficiency and lack of resources in the court system. According to the government, as of October 1, pretrial detainees made up approximately 41 percent of the 69,054 inmates in prison. The parliamentary committee that investigated the conditions at Oukacha Prison (see section 1.c.) reported that 80 percent of Oukacha inmates were in pretrial detention. In some cases detainees received a sentence shorter than the time they spent in pretrial detention. NGOs continued to report that more than half of incarcerated minors were in pretrial detention. In some cases minors were detained for as long as eight months prior to trial."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Republic of Congo 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 27, 2013

"Lengthy pretrial detention due to judicial backlogs was a problem. Pretrial detainees continued to constitute three-fourths of the prison population. On average detainees waited one to three months in noncriminal cases and at least 12 months in criminal cases, according to prison authorities, or 12 to 36 months, according to human rights activists, before going to trial."

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Libya 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 26, 2013

"The Constitutional Declaration provides for an independent judiciary and stipulates that every person has a right to resort to the courts. The judicial system under Qadhafi was not independent. While the part of the system processing day-to-day, nonpolitically tinged cases functioned reasonably well, the judicial system, despite tentative efforts to reform it, remained largely ineffective in dealing with the complex issues arising from the end of the Qadhafi era. Thousands of persons in detention were held without access to a lawyer and without being informed of the charges against them. Moreover, few trials were held, and only a few investigations were initiated into alleged abuses by either pro- or anti-Qadhafi groups. Qadhafi’s parallel court system for political cases no longer existed, and the Ministry of Justice no longer directed the day-to-day operations of the court system. However, the courts still struggled to deal with sensitive and complex political cases. In addition, judges cited concerns about the overall lack of security in and around the courts as one of the reasons that they had not yet returned to work, further hindering the judiciary’s reestablishment. Detainees were also subjected to threats that they would be killed if released."

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