PRI adds seven new country profiles

Committed to brining you detailed and current information about pretrial detention rights around the world, Pretrial Rights International has added seven new country profiles to its database.  Check out: Armenia Brazil Colombia Egypt Haiti Malaysia Sri Lanka We couldn’t gather such in-depth information without the help of our supporters.  Many thanks to Squire Patton Boggs LLP for its continued support of Pretrial Rights International’s cause. Several law schools are also discussing potential partnerships with us.  We’d love to have your school’s support, developing country pages, monitoring law, meeting with local lawyers, assisting in legislative drafting, and representing clients worldwide.  Please contact us if you or your school are interested in...

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – “Mandela Rules” passed

On 22 May 2015, the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (24th Session) adopted the 22 May 2015 – United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules).  These rules–known as the “Mandela Rules”–provide much needed clarity to the treatment of prisoners worldwide, including pretrial detainees. In a recent press release, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime encouraged states to adopt these minimum standards in their domestic legislation: Countries are encouraged to reflect the “Mandela Rules” in their national legislation so that prison administrators can apply them in their daily work. The NGO, Penal Reform, published a version of the Mandela Rules showing their substantive revisions. The Mandela Rules are reproduced below.  Section II.C specifically addresses rights unique to pretrial detainees.       I. Rules of general application Basic principles Rule 1 All prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings. No prisoner shall be subjected to, and all prisoners shall be protected from, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, for which no circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification. The safety and security of prisoners, staff, service providers and visitors shall be ensured at all times. Rule 2 1. The present rules shall be applied impartially. There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or any other status. The religious beliefs and moral precepts of prisoners shall be respected. 2. In order for the principle of non-discrimination to be put into practice,...

Iranian Trial Commences for American Reporter Jason Rezaian

As the US and Iran continue negotiations on a nuclear deal, the trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian began behind closed doors in a revolutionary court in Tehran last week. According to reports, Rezaian’s hearing adjourned abruptly without any indication of when proceedings would resume. Rezaian’s family traveled to the courthouse for the hearing, but were denied access to the floor where proceedings were held. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an organization critical of the Iranian government headquartered in Connecticut, Rezaian’s trial commenced in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, “a court known for issuing heavy sentences against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience with little to no supporting evidence.” Meanwhile, in Washington, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on “Americans Detained in Iran.” Mr. Rezaian’s brother, Ali Rezaian, will be among the...

US Senate Approves Measure Advocating for Release of US Citizens

On Monday, the United States Senate voted 90-0 to pass a measure (S.Con.Res.16) to encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to “immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the United States Government to locate and return Robert Levinson.” Although Abedini and Hekmati have been charged and sentenced (wrongfully, according to the resolution’s sponsor, Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and the State Department), Rezaian (and possibly Levinson) is currently being held in pretrial detention. As detailed in the resolution, Rezaian was “unjustly detained in 2014 and has been held without trial.” The Senate passed the resolution following tense negotiations surrounding amendments to legislation providing for Congressional review of an eventual Obama Administration deal with Iran on its nuclear program. Though not included as a part of that legislation, the resolution passed Monday evening sends a strong signal to the Iranian Government that it must respect the rights of US citizens in its prisons. Should Abedini, Hekmati, and Rezaian not be released prior to the conclusion of a nuclear deal, it will be interesting to determine how the US Congress responds....

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif on American Prisoner Jason Rezaian

Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke at an event in New York organized by the New America Foundation. In response to a question about American prisoner Jason Rezaian, Foreign Minister Zarif suggested that Rezaian will have to defend himself in court against serious charges. He then asserted that although many Iranians are also imprisoned abroad, more people know about Rezaian because “the Washington Post has a much better publicity campaign.” The reality is that in addition to Rezaian, who is a dual Iranian and US citizen, there are a number of Iranians currently held in pretrial detention in Iran — including a number of opposition figures who have reportedly been held under house arrest for years without being formally charged with a crime. Moreover, all indications are that Rezaian’s pretrial detention rights have not been respected, an indication that he is unlikely to receive a fair and impartial trial. According to his attorney, the case file she received offered no evidence to support the charges lodged against Mr. Rezaian. Moreover, she has only been granted one substantial meeting with her client, and she does not anticipate another prior to his trial — making it difficult to prepare an adequate defense against the “serious charges” alluded to by Foreign Minister...

Russia: A Complex Web of Pretrial Detention

Russia’s a tough country to be detained in.  Pretrial detention is common.  And pretrial rights and remedies are on the books.  Limits exist.  But a massive question of enforcement remains.  The European Court of Human Rights has a large number of cases finding the Russian government violated basic human rights obligations by detaining persons awaiting trial for excessively long periods of time and in poor conditions.  We’ve laid out the letter of the law in our most recent Country Profile for Russia. Our experience in Russia has been that the authorities will find hooks within the law to keep persons detained.  If the maximum detention period is met, additional charges are lodged to “start” a “new” detention period.  The diplomatic relationship between Russia and the United States makes pressing for pretrial detention rights difficult – we’ve heard that on the State Department’s list of 100 priority items with Russia, pretrial detention rights are...

Traveling Abroad for Spring Break? Who to call in an emergency

The U.S. State Department has developed a webpage for students traveling abroad.  It contains an emergency list of contacts with all “911” numbers around the world.  Check out the country where you’ll be traveling and make note of the emergency number.  Also keep on hand the U.S. State Department American Citizen Services numbers for your destination country.  Look up travel warnings and contact details here. The LA Times today summarized recent worldwide travel warnings and advice for students traveling abroad.  Good stuff!  Stay safe and travel...

Countries

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