by Maurice Alexander
My comments on pretrial detention are very much akin to all that have been discussed by the panelist that went before me. For the benefit of summary, I will reiterate our common themes regarding the challenges pertaining to Pretrial Detention. These obstacles are most acute in developing countries. I say developing because they do not impact developed countries to the same degree. These challenges are issues of poverty. For example, in the United States and Western Europe, systems have well been established to deal with the issues of allowing poor people to be released on their personal recognizance, and that involving speedy trails. Even when pretrial detention issues become widely known, developed countries address them faster.
Another example is when TB had begun to emerge in many jails and prisons during the late nineties. Within five years or so, the threat of people being released and spreading this decease to the wider community had been eliminated. I believe the same could be said about HIV-AIDS and other commutable deceases. Due to the degree of overall development, these countries are better equipped to resolve a pretrial detention question before it becomes a crisis.
Therefore, our focus is primarily on developing countries. The most common pretrial detention challenges these countries face, particularly in the post colonial countries, are:
- Making pretrial detention practices consistent with international human rights standards
- The waste of public, family and individual resource due to severely faulty pretrial detention systems.
- Loss of confidence in criminal law enforcement
- Questions involving conviction and punishment before trail (due to long-term pretrail detention)
- Public health risk via contagious decease subject to be spread to the community at large
In the last analysis, these challenges are issues of poverty; hence the most poverty stricken countries experience the harshest pretrial detention conditions. Moreover, as we improve pretrial detention
conditions on a global scale, we move to eradicate the scourge of poverty, while enhancing poor peoples’ confidence and perceptions of their governmental systems.
I close my presentation with the offer of working with groups interested in establishing links with my office in Washington, D.C.