Tag Archives: Prison

Falun Gong Organ Harvesting:Bodies With Missing Organs [report pdf]


– 14 –
Gong practitioners who had come from all over the country to Tian an men Square in Beijing to appeal or protest were arrested. Those who revealed their identities to their captors would be shipped back to their home localities. Their families would be implicated in their Falun Gong activities and pressured to join in the effort to get the practitioners to renounce Falun Gong. Their workplace leaders, their co-workers, their local government leaders would be held responsible and penalized for the fact that these individuals had gone to Beijing to appeal or protest.To protect their families and avoid the hostility of the people in their locality, many detained Falun Gong declined to identify themselves. The result was a large Falun Gong prison population whose identities the authorities did not know. As well, no one who knew them knew where they were.Though this refusal to identify themselves was done for protection purposes, it may have had the opposite effect. It is easier to victimize a person whose whereabouts is unknown to family members than a person whose location the family knows. This population is a remarkably undefended group of people, even by Chinese standards.This population of the unidentified was treated especially badly. As well, they were moved around within the Chinese prison system for reasons not explained to the prisoners.Was this the population which became the source of harvested Falun Gong organs?Obviously, the mere existence of this population does not tell us that this is so. Yet,the existence of this population provides a ready explanation for the source of harvested organs, if the allegations are true. Members of this population could just disappear without anyone outside of the prison system being the wiser. Information about this population of the unidentified is attached as an appendix to this report.In fact, there are many missing Falun Gong practitioners


Man Jailed For Collecting Rainwater Begins Sentence


“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can wake up as a country”

Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Oregon man sent to prison for collecting rainwater on his own property began the first day of his jail sentence with a warning that the American people need to stand up to a government that is operating completely outside the boundaries of common sense unless they wish to see liberty vanish.

After an 11-year battle with the state of Oregon, landowner Gary Harrington was found guilty under a 1925 law and sentenced to spend 30 days in jail for collecting rainwater in three “illegal reservoirs” despite the fact that they are on his property.

After refusing to follow an order to empty the “reservoirs” (which in reality are little more than large ponds), Harrington decided to follow through with the jail sentence as an example to other Americans as to how far the country has slipped from its constitutional values.

Harrington’s case has become a cause célèbre for Americans sick to the back teeth of big government interfering in property rights.

Flanked by protesters gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail, Harrington said he loved his country and was willing to go to jail “to get the truth out and restore freedom and common sense in America.”

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Accusing Oregon state officials of failing to uphold their oath of office and pledge of allegiance, Harrington pointed out that citizens did not consent to be governed by those who fail to understand the rights enshrined in the constitution, adding that officials did not take into account the “historically understood” legal right to collect rain water during wet season.

Harrington pointed out that the state had broken their own law by issuing permits to individuals allowing them to divert water from public supplies, whereas Harrington was merely collecting rainwater that fell on his own property and was not taken from municipal supplies.

“Common sense is the basis for common law, without common sense, the law is insane and we did not agree to be governed by insanity or illegality,” said Harrington, adding that throughout American history, citizens have laid their lives down to preserve cherished rights.

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so that we can wake up as a country and stand for our liberty,” said Harrington, adding that his campaign had only just begun.

As we have documented, Harrington’s case is just one of dozens across the country that illustrate how the establishment is using draconian regulatory powers to eviscerate property rights and re-define Americans as de-facto feudal slaves with no inherent rights whatsoever.

This process is being carried out under the umbrella of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 project, which demands that member nations adopt “sustainable development” policies that are little more than a disguise for the reintroduction of neo-feudalism and only serve to reduce living standards and quality of life.Infowars


Prisons, repression & profits


The heroic struggle to save the life of death-row prisoner Troy Davis from a legal lynching in Georgia is not an isolated one. There are broader issues involved, like abolishing the death penalty, not just in the Davis case but in general. According to the Death Penalty Information Center website, as of Jan. 1 of this year, there are more than 3,250 death-row prisoners.

No millionaire or billionaire sits on death row. Death-row inmates are disproportionately Black and Latino, and the overwhelming majority are poor. These reasons alone are motivations to up the ante to abolish the death penalty. This penalty only serves to strength this terrorist arm of the repressive state apparatus under capitalism. To be proven innocent — as in the case of Davis, Mumia Abu-Jamal or Gary Graham aka Shaka Sankofa, who the state of Texas executed in 2000 — is never a guarantee of winning one’s freedom in the biased U.S. courts.

Overall, there are an estimated 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons — the largest such population in the world. An additional 5 million people are either on probation or parole. All totaled, there are more than 7 million people under the jurisdiction of the U.S. prison system. This number does not include tens of thousands of youth in juvenile detention. More young African-American men are in prison than in college.

Repression of the most brutal kind is one aspect of the U.S. prison system. Fighting repression is part and parcel of a much larger struggle against the entire prison-industrial complex. The PIC is tied to restructuring the capitalist system, which has accelerated since the mid-1980s. This has resulted in a booming prisons-for-profit industry that has generated super-profits for Wall Street corporations like the Correctional Corporations of America.

In describing its purpose, CCA states that it “designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, nearly half of all states and nearly a dozen counties across the country.” It goes on to say that it “owns and operates more than 60 facilities including 44 company-owned facilities, with a design capacity of more than 85,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia.” (www.cca.com.)

CCA, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., is a multimillion-dollar corporation that has close ties to the U.S. government. Between 2003 and 2010, the CCA spent almost $15 million lobbying members in both Houses of Congress, ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Prisons and others in order to secure public monies for governmental contracts to expand its facilities around the U.S.

Commentator Bill Maher stated, “Prisons used to be a non-profit business. … The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That’s why [the U.S.] has the world’s largest prison population — because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.” (Huffington Post, July 27, 2009)

The PIC has nothing to do with rehabilitation. The PIC is based on making profits at the expense of human needs under the most horrific conditions. It has this in common with most capitalist institutions.

Corporations like Victoria’s Secret, Best Western and Boeing outsource jobs to prisons so they can use prison labor to undercut unions. Corporations can increase profits by paying prisoners much less than the minimum wage.

Telephone companies get huge profits by charging exorbitant prices to prisoners forced to make collect calls to their families.

As the poverty rate soars and unemployment grows, so will the incarceration rate. Demanding the dismantlement of the PIC should be tied to the need for a massive jobs program along with eliminating the entire capitalist system. This struggle should be waged in the revolutionary spirit of martyred prisoners like the Attica brothers, Shaka Sankofa and Troy Davis, who is scheduled to be murdered Sept. 21 Source


Even prisoners deserve right to free speech


Prison is hardly supposed to be pleasant. Inmates are deprived of their freedom because they did terrible things. James Crawford, for example, was convicted of robbery and auto theft, and is reportedly a member of the Black Guerrilla Family, a notorious and violent prison gang.

That’s why Mr. Crawford has been incarcerated in Pelican Bay, the toughest and most secure prison facility in California.

But even the most dangerous inmates deserve certain rights. One of these is the right to communicate with the outside world. Two years ago, officials with the Department of Corrections tried to deny him that right. They were wrong to try, and state appellate Justice James Lambden was right last week when he ordered prison officials to lift what amounted to an arbitrary gag order.

In April 2010, Crawford wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper in which he addressed a recent article about political prisoners in the United States.

Crawford claimed the newspaper seriously undercounted the number of political prisoners, and that inmates such as himself were being held in solitary confinement because of their “political beliefs in a New Afrikan Nationalist Revolutionary Man.”

Prison officials opened and read the letter, as is customary. But this reference to a “New Afrikan,” they decided, was part of a sophisticated code to promote the Black Guerrilla Family’s criminal agenda out on the mean streets of California. They refused to allow Crawford to mail it.

Crawford sued, with the help of attorney Donald Spector. He and Spector produced James Campbell, a Stanford historian who testified that the phrase “New Afrikan” has a long legacy in the history of black nationalism and is hardly unique to the Black Guerrilla Family.

As for the Pelican Bay officials, they never bothered to elaborate on what sort of code Crawford was allegedly using. They simply said so, denied his rights and went to court.

On June 4, Lambden wrote for a unanimous three-person appellate court committee when he declared that Pelican Bay officials had gratuitously denied Crawford’s fundamental right to communicate with others and didn’t even bother to explain why. Crawford’s rights, he concluded, “cannot be taken away by a government agency simply speculating.”

As a result, Crawford’s letter will now be sent to the Bay View — two years later. That prison officials can simply refuse to allow something as basic as the right to communicate with the outside world, and force inmates to spend two years in court, is more than a little galling.

But at least the 1st District Court of Appeal has ruled against them and stood up for the First Amendment.

California’s prisons have been plagued by numerous scandals, from allegations of brutality to widespread failures in medical care for inmates. Inmates must be allowed to speak to the rest of us, and not have their rights be subject to the whims of prison censors.

Otherwise, we may never learn what next scandal is brewing inside the system. We hope that Pelican Bay officials learn from this case and never try to suppress the rights of inmates again.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2012/06/even-prisoners-deserve-right-free-speech#ixzz21dk3NDW4


Man dies in Calif. state-sponsored torture scandal


Another Pelican Bay Prison SHU man dead after strip celled, blasted with ‘ice cold air’ in retaliation for peaceful hunger strike

Another Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Striker has died this week according to an Examiner.com source Saturday evening. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has yet to announce the death, name or cause. State-sponsored torture continues throughout California’s solitary confinement units prompting another prison to announce a mass hunger strike this weekend.

This death “makes it three now here, all strikers and its sad,” inmates at Pelican Bay Prison Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) solitary confinement said on Dec. 30, their message emailed to this reporter by a source late Saturday evening.

Prisoners in Pelican Bay Prison’s SHU decided early this summer to protest tortuous conditions in isolation using the only peaceful means available to them, a hunger strike, quickly spreading to over a third of California’s 33 prisons, 16 prisons where up to 12,000 prisoners refused food.

After the prisoners officially ended the strike, it resumed but ended again in October, Since then, at least three of the strikers “committed suicide,” two in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU and another at Calipatria State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).

Retaliation on hunger strikers continues

“There have been reports of hunger striker leaders at Pelican Bay State Prison facing disciplinary action for their participation in the strikes,” reported Sal Rodriguez for Solitary Watch.

One of the hunger strike leaders recently reported, “On November 30th, myself and several other men here (whom CDCR has labeled as ‘leaders’ of the peaceful-protests) received serious rule violations, charging us with ‘causing a riot/mass disturbance’ and they referred it for felony – prosecution, to the local D.A’s office.

“The Ad-Seg/ ASU units are bad news. I was never housed in them until being put in the one here on Sept. 29th. This was CDCR’s retaliatory action against (15) of us here.

“We were all isolated on a tier, in strip cells with nothing but a set of clothes and fish kit (spoon, cup, bar of soap, etc…), with ice cold air blasting outta the vents!”

Confinement in those ASU conditions reportedly lasted until October 13th, end of the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike.

By mid-October, prisoners had begun reporting “grave medical issues.”

A relative of a striker at Calipatria State Prison said, “Men are collapsing in their cells because they haven’t eaten in two weeks. I have been told that guards refuse to respond when called. This is clearly a medical emergency.”

Hunger strike resumes at Concoran State Prison, despite brutal retaliation

Rodriguez states, “Since this time, there has been difficulty maintaining the momentum sparked by the first hunger strike, which notably led in a historic California Assembly hearing on the matter with promises of future Public Safety Committee inquiries into the system of solitary confinement.

With little progress by the slow-moving CDCR, ASU inmates at Corcoran State Prison were to resume or launch another hunger strike on December 28th.

A letter declaring the purpose of the strike with a list of demands, similar to the previous hunger strike Five Core Demands, has been published on December 30th.

Pelican Bay Short Corridor inmates wrote the letter below, dated December 22nd.

Pelican Bay Short Corridor inmates are considered leaders of the previous hunger strikes.

Their letter (below) reflects growing frustration and determination for their torturous situation.

The inmates are urging individuals to keep pressure on CDCR and the California government to fully address the human rights violations including torture by people at all levels of the California prison-industrial-complex.

Pelican Bay Short Corridor Update

(December 2011)

A Shout-out of respect and solidarity – from the Pelican Bay Short Corridor – Collective – to all similarly situated prisoners subject to the continuing torturous conditions of confinement in these barbaric SHU & Ad/Seg units across this country and around the world.

This is our update of where things currently stand and where we’re going with this struggle – for an end to draconian policies and practices – summarized in our “Formal Complaint” (and many related documents published and posted online, since early 2011)

As many of you know… beginning in early (2010), the PBSP – SHU Short Corridor Collective initiated action to educate people and bring wide spread exposure to – the (25+) years of ongoing – progressive human rights violations going unchecked here in the California Department of Corruption – via dissemination of our “Formal Complaint” to 100’s of people, organizations, lawmakers, Secretary Cate, etc… wherein, we also sought support and meaningful change.

The response by CDCR – Secretary Cate was “file an inmate appeal” (collectively, we’d filed thousands); therefore, after much reconsideration and dialogue, the collective decided to take the fight to the next level via peaceful protest action – in the form of hunger strike.

With the above in mind – beginning in early (2011)… we again sought to educate people about the ongoing torture prevalent in these prison systems – solitary confinement units; and pointing out our position that – the administrative grievance process is a sham, and the court system’s turned a blind eye to such blatantly illegal practices – Leaving us with no other meaningful avenue for obtaining relief, other than to put our lives on the line and thereby draw the line and force changes, via collective peaceful protest hunger strike action.

We believed this was the only – fully advantageous – way for us to expose such outrageous abuse of state power, to the world and gain the outside support needed to help force real change.

We requested support in the form of – asking people to write letters to those in power… we received more support than we ever expected – in the form of letters, rallies, and hunger strike “participants” – more than (18,000) similarly situated prisoners and some people on the outside!

All united in solidarity, with a collective awareness – that the draconian torture practices described in our “Formal Complaint” are prevalent across the land; and that – united in peaceful action, we have the power to force changes.

The hunger strike actions of (2011) achieved some success, in the form of – mainstream world wide exposure – solid, continuing outside support – some small improvements to SHU/Ad-Seg unit conditions … and assurances of more meaningful – substantive changes to the overall policies and practices re: basis for placement and amount of time spent, in such units – a substantive review of all prisoners files, per new criteria – and more change to the actual conditions in such units.

However, this fight is far from over! Notably, the second hunger strike action was suspended in mid-October … in response to top CDCR administrator’s presentation that the substantive changes be finalized… would be provided to “the stakeholders” (this includes our attorneys), within 60 days for comment. To date, CDCR hasn’t produced anything re: SHU/Ad-Seg policy changes; and PBSP’s Warden has not even replied to the (2) memo’s we’ve sent him concerning – additional program – privilege issues, per core demand #5 (see footnote #1 below)

Naturally, many people are not happy about CDCR’s failure to abide by their word – again – and they are asking… “what’s the next move in this struggle?”

Based on our collective discussions, our response is … people need to remain focused, and continue to apply pressure on CDCR, via letters, emails, fax, etc… summarizing the continuing core demands – immediately! There’s real power in numbers!! (see addresses to contact below, at footnote #2)

It’s important for everyone to stay objective and on the same page – remember… united we win, divided we lose. And, if we don’t see real substantive changes within the next 6 months… we’ll have to re-evaluate our position.

Additionally, now is a good time for people to start a dialogue about changing the climate on these level IV mainlines… As it stands now, these lines are warehouses, with all the money meant for programs – rehabilitation, going into guard pockets.

It’s in all of our best interests to change this in a big way, and thereby force CDCR to open these lines up and provide all of us with the programs and rehabilitative services that we all should have coming to us!!

Respect and Solidarity,

T. Ashker, A. Castellanos, Sitawa (s/n Dewberry), A. Guillen

-Dec. 2011-

Footnote#1: To date, we’ve received zero improvements re: core demand #5 … while Corcoran and Tehachapi have gained on canteen and dip-pull up bars – which, is all good. This is an example of what we pointed out in our “Formal Complaint” re: disparate treatment at PBSP-SHU compared to other SHU’s.

This is also a typical CDCR attempt to create discord and disruption to our unified struggle…we’re certain this feeble move will fail because all of us understand what our main objective is – an end to long term torture in these isolation units! It is our fundamental right to be treated humanely… we can no longer accept state sanctioned torture – of our selves! (and, our loved ones!) and we remain unified in our resistance!!

Footnote#2: Addresses of people to write

1. Tom Ammiano, Assemblyman 2. Governor Edmund G. Brown

Capitol Bldg. Rm# 4005 State Capitol, Ste #1173

Sacramento, CA 95814 Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone# 916-319-2013 Phone# 916-446-2841

Fax# 916-319-2113 Fax# 916-558-3160

3. CDCR – Secretary Matthew Cate 4. Carol Strickman, Attorney at Law

1515 S. St. Ste. #330 1540 Market Street, Ste. #490

Sacramento, CA 95811 San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone# 916-323-6001 Phone# 415-255-7036

Fax# 415-552-3150

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is now one of the leading groups dedicated to ending torture in U.S. prisons. It’s specific focus is on the widespread use and abuse of solitary confinement according to James Ridgeway and Jean Casella of Solitary Watch.

At the core of NRCAT’s work is it’s “Statement of Conscience,” titled “Torture is a Moral Issue,” Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved — policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.

“Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed?

“Let America abolish torture now — without exceptions.”Source


Sudan:Growing Up In Prison


Omjameal Marshue Mohammed was 18 when she was convicted of selling marijuana and sentenced to 20 years in Omdurman Prison, Sudan’s largest women’s prison located near the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Released recently after a judge reduced her sentence by a half because she was a young first offender, Mohammed, explained that selling marijuana was one of the few options she had to support her two children.

“My husband and I were living in Mayo camp [for internally displaced persons (IDPs), 20 km south of Khartoum], and he made very little money from his day job. We had two children and so we both began selling hashish to make ends meet.”

There are currently an estimated 1,000 women in the facility, the majority of whom are serving sentences for brewing and selling alcohol, an illegal substance in Sudan since the country adopted Islamic Sharia law in 1983.

According to Arafaa Sheikh Musa, the secretary-general of Al Manar Volunteer Organisation – an NGO that assists and educates women in prison – the business of brewing alcohol and selling drugs developed in the wake of the civil war.

“More than 80 percent of those imprisoned for brewing alcohol or selling drugs are internally displaced southern Sudanese. They have families, have had to leave their homes, are living in camps and have no other means of generating income,” Musa said.

On 9 January, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement brought an end to the 21-year north-south civil war that left 2 million dead and more than 4 million displaced. Most IDPs have yet to return to their homes and depend on petty trade – in anything from clothes to alcohol – to feed their families.

Petty trade, however, is prohibited under Section 20 of the Khartoum State Public Order Act, which was established by the Sudanese government in 1996. The punishment for anyone convicted of violating the act is a fine, a possible jail term and 25 lashes.

Under Khartoum State criminal law, the penalty for selling alcohol can include a fine of 20,000 to 100,000 Sudanese dinars (US $80-$400), a prison sentence of 15 days to 20 years and 40 to 80 lashes, depending on prior convictions and the nature of the trade.

“The women cannot afford the fines, so they will have to stay in prison double the amount of time they were initially given in order to work [for] the money that they owe,” Musa explained.

Raising families in prison

In January 2004, an Al Manar study of Omdurman Prison found that 70 percent of the women were serving short-term sentences of 15 days to six months and 30 percent were being held for a period of one to 20 years.

A result of lengthy prison sentences is that the children of inmates face abandonment unless they go to prison with their mothers.

“These women are the caretakers of their children. The fathers are not around or working or have died during the war. So when the women are jailed, their children suffer,” Musa observed.

At the time of her arrest, Mohammed had two daughters. The eldest stayed with a friend, but Zahra, who was only seven months old, went with her mother to prison. They shared a bed in a cell with 20 other women and their children for 10 years.

According to Musa, Sudanese authorities allow the children to stay in prison with their mothers because they realised that the children had no one else to care for them. The facility, however, is not properly equipped to care for all the children living there.

“The prison authorities are not responsible for the feeding or health necessities of the children, and the meals distributed are only enough to feed the mother,” Musa explained.

The assessment by Al Manar in 2004 indicated that between 150 and 300 children were living inside the prison, of whom 88 percent were under age two. Because the majority of these children came from camps and squatter areas, 95 percent were not vaccinated against preventable diseases and – at the time – 77 percent were malnourished.

“A couple of years back the mortality rate of the children was so high, there were four to six children dying from malnutrition a month,” Musa noted. She added that children were also succumbing to preventable diseases because there were no drugs available inside the prison.


To address the problem, Al Manar — with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organisations — started a feeding programme and a drug clinic to provide the children with two meals a day and vaccinate them against preventable diseases.

“The malnutrition rate is now almost zero percent. We had only 13 children die in 2004 – from an outbreak of measles, not from malnutrition,” Musa said.

Al Manar also offers legal assistance to inmates, writing appeals, providing them with lawyers free of charge and conducting workshops to inform the women of their rights and certain by-laws that may help to reduce individual sentences.

“The women can’t afford lawyers, and even if they could they do not know their rights because they’ve never been educated in them. So they plead guilty, even when they are not. By the time we get to them to help, it is already to late to make an appeal,” Musa noted.

Mohammed maintained that if she had known her legal rights before she was arrested she might not have had to carry out a 10-year sentence.

“I had no money and no house, so I couldn’t use anything as collateral to pay for a lawyer. I had to take whatever sentence was given. If I’d known my rights before my arrest, I would have been able to defend myself differently,” she said.

Al Manar also teaches women how to make handicrafts and other items, to provide an alternative to illegal petty trade.

Now that she had been released, Mohammed noted that these new skills would enable her to support her children. “In the courses I learned how to dye cloth and now I can make many wonderful and useful things. I want to start a business to sell these things so that I can make money to take care of my family,” she said.

Musa pointed out that despite their interventions, most of the women were IDPs and lacked the money to establish a legal business. As long as petty trade remained illegal in Khartoum, the problem would continue, she said.

“On an average day there are about 800 to 1,000 women in prison. Every week, 40 will be released and the police will arrest about 50 more. Sometimes it is the same women being arrested. It is an ongoing cycle and not a very productive one,” she added. “These women need to be given opportunities to make money. If there are none, they will continue to make illegal substances, and the cycle will just continue.” Source


South Sudan: Arbitrary Detentions, Dire Prison Conditions



(Juba) – Flawed processes, unlawful detentions, and dire conditions in South Sudan’s prisons reflect the urgent need to improve the new nation’s fledgling justice system, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 105-page report, “Prison Is Not for Me: Arbitrary Detention in South Sudan”, documents violations of due process rights, patterns of wrongful deprivation of liberty, and the harsh, unacceptable prison conditions in which detainees live. The research was done during a 10-month period before and after South Sudan’s independence, on July 9, 2011.

“The experience of those in detention in South Sudan reveals serious flaws in the emerging justice system,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “South Sudan is a new country and badly needs an effective justice system that upholds human rights and dignity. It is a fundamental building block for establishing rule of law and accountability.”

The research was carried out in 12 of the country’s 79 prisons, in areas with the largest prison populations. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 250 inmates and a range of justice officials, correctional officers, police, prosecutors, and traditional authorities.

Researchers documented a litany of human rights concerns throughout the criminal justice system.

A third of South Sudan’s prison population of approximately 6,000 has not been convicted of any offense or in some cases even charged with one, but are detained, often for long periods, waiting for police, prosecutors, and judges to process their cases.

The vast majority of detainees have no legal representation, because they cannot afford a lawyer and South Sudan has no functioning legal aid system. Judges pass long sentences and even condemn to death people who, without legal assistance, were unable to understand the nature of charges against them or to call and prepare witnesses in their defense, Human Rights Watch found.

Frustration with, and confusion about, the criminal justice system are common among prisoners. A male inmate accused of murder told Human Rights Watch: “I have stayed here for five years […] and have not seen a judge. The court has not called the case. The attorney general doesn’t know the law. The police don’t know the law.”

South Sudan’s plural legal system, in which formal courts co-exist with customary courts presided over by chiefs, presents concerns relating to the guarantee of due process rights. Human Rights Watch researchers met scores of people sent to prison by chiefs who had no formal legal training, for crimes that do not appear in South Sudan’s criminal code. Though these courts are more accessible and efficient in some respects than the formal courts, the courts’ criminal jurisdiction and sentencing powers are not sufficiently clear, Human Rights Watch found.

Many inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch were held for marital or sexual offenses such as adultery and elopement – offenses in both statutory and customary laws that violate internationally protected rights to privacy and to marry a spouse of one’s choice. Others were ordered detained for indeterminate periods because they could not pay debts, court-ordered fines, or compensation awards, which are often defined as a number of cattle. They had no idea when they would be released.

Human Rights Watch found that some of those behind bars have not been accused of, much less tried for, any crime at all, and some were detained as proxies to compel the appearance of a relative or friend. About 90 people were in prison solely because they appear to have mental disabilities. The people of South Sudan have endured decades of wartime trauma, but the country has no mental health facilities. People who show signs of mental disability are often summarily sent to prison, in the absence of any health facility where they can get appropriate care.

“Many of South Sudan’s prisoners are incarcerated following flawed arrests and prosecutions, detained without any solid legal justification, or sentenced for behavior that quite simply should not be criminalized as to do so is a violation of basic rights and freedoms,” Bekele said. “Such detentions are arbitrary – and therefore illegal – under international law and often violate South Sudan’s own constitution and laws.”

Grim conditions in South Sudan’s prisons compound the injustices related to how and why people are behind bars. Prison infrastructure is rudimentary and in some cases damaged or crumbling. Cells are unhygienic, severely overcrowded, and lack sufficient ventilation.

Inmates do not get enough to eat and in some prisons water also is in short supply. Prisoners are vulnerable to illness and disease, Human Rights Watch found, but when they fall sick, they rarely receive proper care, unless they can pay for medicine themselves. Ten inmates died in Aweil prison and at least five died in Bentiu prison in 2011 alone, most of treatable illnesses.

Inmates reported that prison officers routinely beat them with sticks, canes, or whips for disciplinary infractions. Some inmates are permanently chained in heavy shackles, which violates domestic and international standards for the use of restraints, and also constitutes prohibited cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.

In all prisons Human Rights Watch visited, children are detained alongside adults and are not offered rehabilitation programs or sufficient educational opportunities, as required under South Sudan’s Child Act.

While much international donor attention has focused on building prisons, donors should also focus on improving conditions and ensuring that prisons uphold minimum standards. Donor support will also be needed to help cover emergency food and medical needs, particularly in light of recent budget cuts for all government institutions following South Sudan’s decision in February to stop oil production and export.

The Justice and Interior Ministries and the judiciary, with support from international agencies and donors, should make it an urgent priority to review the files of all prisoners, Human Rights Watch said. They should identify prisoners for whom there is no legal basis for their continued detention and release all but those whose continued detention is strictly justified. Case reviews and increased coordination within the justice sector would help eliminate arbitrary detention, which would help reduce prison numbers and would not require substantial expenditure, Human Rights Watch said.

In addition, South Sudan should ensure sufficient training in due process and fair trial standards for police, prosecutors, and judges. Existing training programs lack sufficient breadth and depth, and do not address some of the problems Human Rights Watch identified. The government also needs to establish an effective legal aid system, which will also need donor support, Human Rights Watch said.

Wide-ranging legal and policy reforms are needed to limit pretrial detention periods, clarify the criminal jurisdiction of customary courts, and end imprisonment for adultery and for non-payment of debt. Authorities should also immediately stop arbitrarily imprisoning people because they show signs of mental disabilities, and find a way to ensure access to care for people with mental disabilities.

“People who commit crimes should be punished in accordance with the law,” Bekele said. “But to deprive someone of their liberty is one of the most powerful sanctions a government can impose. It should only happen following due process and in accordance with South Sudan’s laws and international human rights commitments.”


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Έγκλημα και Τιμωρία/Crime and Punishment/Crime et Châtiment/Delitto e castigo/Преступление и наказание


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A constant reminder that life would be so much better without the BBC's TV Licence Gestapo

Healthy At Any Age

Welcome to June Rousso's Blog !


Thoughts of a recovering leftist

Scottish Gaelic

Word a Day



Talk of the Tail

"Tails" from pets searching for their forever home.


A great WordPress.com site

TBN Media

Alea Jacta Est

Watts Up With That?

The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change

Levi Quackenboss

Putting the boss in quack.

Unstrange Mind

Remapping My World



Wee Ginger Dug

Biting the hand of Project Fear


Quit Smoking & Take Your Freedom Back!

Guido Fawkes

Parliamentary plots and conspiracy

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