A report by the International Board of CHRI chaired by Professor Alison Duxbury.
Pre-trial detention refers to the practice of depriving individuals of their fundamental freedoms because they are accused of committing an offence or are merely suspected of being involved in a crime. Such persons are detained in the custody of law enforcement agencies or prisons before they are tried by a competent court or other judicial authority. Such detentions should however, be used by law enforcement agencies as a measure of last resort and in very limited circumstances because the detainee has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The overuse of the practice of pre-trial detention causes harmful impact on individual lives, families, communities, the rule of law, and exposes people presumed to be innocent until proven guilty to disease and overcrowding. Pre-trial detention often disrupts the economic prospects of detained individuals, adversely affecting their ability to earn income, pushes their families toward poverty, damages the educational prospects of their children and impacts their ability to access health care apart from a host of other public services essential for leading a life of dignity free from want. It also negatively affects the social wellbeing of family members, placing a strong burden on other members of the family, who then get easily plunged into destitution, including hunger and homelessness.
The excessive and arbitrary use of pre-trial detention is a global problem, affecting the developed and the developing countries alike. The situation is no different across the Commonwealth, with pre-trial detainees comprising more than half of the prison population in 15 Member States. On an average, 34.6% of prisoners across the Commonwealth are pre-trial detainees. Since 2000, the total prison population has increased by 40.8%, whereas the global increase has been around 24%. An average prison occupancy level of 126.1% is indicative of chronic overcrowding, with average occupancy levels being more than 200% in some countries like Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia...
Courtesy: CHRI and K&L Gates