Washington Post dedicates Christmas-day column to Americans jailed abroad

December 25, 2017 – …Take the cases of Mostafa Kassem and Ahmed Etiwy, two of the U.S. citizens held by Egypt. Both have been imprisoned since 2013 after being swept up in crackdowns against protests in which they did not participate. Kassem, a 52-year-old auto-parts dealer from New York, happened to be in Egypt on the day that security forces crushed a mass sit-in in Cairo’s Rabaa Square, killing hundreds. He was not there but was stopped at a security checkpoint two miles away; when police saw his U.S. passport, they beat him up and arrested him. Etiwy, a 27-year-old student also from New York, similarly was dropping off a relative at a bus station when police stormed a nearby mosque. He was surrounded by a mob who suspected him of being a journalist, then was turned over to security forces. Kassem has never been convicted of a crime, but Etiwy was sentenced in September to five years in prison. Praveen Madhiraju of the Washington-based group Pretrial Rights International said he and two other advocates had contacted officials at the White House and National Security Council a dozen times about the cases but received no response. A letter from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to Trump in August prompted no visible action. But an Irish citizen arrested in the same mosque crackdown that swept up Etiwy was freed in October after intensive lobbying by the Irish government. Read the rest of the story on the Washington Post’s...
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – “Mandela Rules” passed

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,...
Arrested abroad?  Who to call first

Arrested abroad? Who to call first

According to the U.S. State Department, more than 2,500 Americans are arrested abroad annually.  Each country has different rules and systems for handling arrested persons.  Some countries follow their laws closely, others do not.  PRI provides information on different country laws and how they are applied. But who do you call first if you are a U.S. citizen detained abroad?  Assuming you get a phone call or two (we hope that you do), here are some basic guidelines on how to let others know of your situation: Tell the U.S. Department of State.  Their American Citizen Services representatives can visit you or try to help you get legal counsel.  If you don’t get a phone call, at least ask the prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately that you are in jail.  The State Department will probably not provide you with any legal advice or try to get you out of jail, but at least they will be able to provide information to your family if contacted and they may also be able to assist you if the prison conditions are poor.  They may also be able to help you find a lawyer.  We have found that the State Department will not be especially interested in the merits of your case or the charges against you – focus on having the State Department help get your basic needs met.  You may find an officer with a sympathetic ear, but it is unlikely he or she will actually assist in proving your innocence. Here is a list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates The State Department also provides...