Human Rights in African Prisons

Human Rights in African Prisons

by Jeremy Sarkin (Editor)


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Even in western industrialised nations, civil and human rights often stop at the prison door. This book looks at the challenges African governments face in dealing with these issues.

Written by some of the most eminent researchers from and on Africa, including the former Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, this collection provides a detailed consideration of the situation in African prisons and examines how regional and international legal instruments have dealt with human rights concerns such as overcrowding, healthcare, pretrial detention and the treatment of women and children. Critically, the book reveals that there are processes and reforms underway across nations in Africa, and makes recommendations for strengthening and building on them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780796922069
Publisher: Human Sciences Research Council
Publication date: 05/28/2008
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Sarkin is the Visiting Professor of International Human Rights and Senior Professor of Law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Administration of Justice: Comparative Perspectives and Carrots and Sticks: The TRC and the South African Amnesty Process.

Table of Contents

Tables and figures     viii
Acknowledgements     ix
Acronyms and abbreviations     x
An overview of human rights in prisons worldwide   Jeremy Sarkin     1
The importance of prison research     1
Why this book?     4
Rising global prisoner numbers     9
Are states with high prisoner populations more punitive?     10
The historical context     12
Conditions and overcrowding     14
Resources and prison governance     20
Awaiting trial detention     22
Women     24
Children     26
Rehabilitation     27
Alternative sentencing     29
The role of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights     30
The Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa     32
Prison reform in Africa     34
Conclusion     37
A brief history of human rights in the prisons of Africa   Stephen Pete     40
The pre-colonial period     40
The Atlantic slave trade     43
The colonial period     44
The post-colonial period     52
Conclusion     60
Challenges to good prison governance in Africa   Chris Tapscott     67
International norms     68
Towards administrative reform of prisons in Africa     70
The promotion of self-sufficiency     71
The management of healthcare in prisons     72
Overcrowding and prison design     73
The management of children and youth     74
Rehabilitation programmes     75
Human resource management     76
Independent oversight of prison administration     79
Conclusion     80
Overcrowding in African prisons   Victor Dankwa     83
Problems caused by overcrowding     84
Causes of overcrowding     85
Overcrowding figures for some African prisons     88
Measures of hope     88
Conclusion     90
Pre-trial detention and human rights in Africa   Martin Schonteich     93
International standards and guidelines     94
African standards and jurisprudence     95
African resolutions and declarations on pre-trial detention     97
Pre-trial detention and imprisonment in Africa     99
Pre-trial detention as a human rights issue     104
Developing solutions     111
Conclusion     114
Children in African prisons   Julia Sloth-Nielsen     117
The prevalence of children in African prisons     117
International standards applicable to children in prisons     119
Prison conditions in practice     122
Positive aspects of African approaches to incarceration     126
Children of imprisoned mothers     128
Conclusion     130
The imprisonment of women in Africa   Lisa Vetten     134
The imprisonment of women across the African continent     135
What leads to women being imprisoned?     144
Other institutions that are prison-like in nature and effect     148
Marriage, sex and women's imprisonment     149
Conclusion     152
Rehabilitation and reintegration in African prisons   Amanda Dissel     155
Defining rehabilitation and reintegration     155
Regional instruments     159
Legislation and policy frameworks     161
The practice of rehabilitation and reintegration in African prisons     162
The impact of rehabilitation and reintegration services on prisoners     172
Conclusion     175
Alternative sentencing in Africa   Lukas Muntingh     178
The framework for and origins of alternative sentencing in Africa     179
Alternative sentencing and prison overcrowding     184
Proportionality and interchangeability of sanctions     190
Social conditions and alternative sentencing     191
Alternative sentencing in the broader system of governance     193
The future of alternative sentencing in Africa     198
Conclusion     200
The African Commission's approach to prisons   Rachel Murray     204
The role of international institutions in assessing prison conditions     204
Visits by the Special Rapporteur     206
Standards adopted by the Commission with respect to prison conditions     211
Conclusion     216
Contributors     224
References     226
Index     247

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