Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 316

Posts Tagged ‘prisons’

COVID-19: the conditions in prisons pose a serious challenge to human rights

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 16 Maggio 2020

The current virus outbreak cannot be used as an excuse to worsen the human rights situation in detention facilities around the world, said Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee on Monday.Members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights held a debate on Monday with experts on how the pandemic is affecting people in places of detention, such as prisons, which are often seriously overcrowded, with low sanitary and poor hygiene standards in many countries across the world.Most MEPs and experts highlighted that the virus outbreak has in many cases led to prison authorities worldwide putting in place draconian measures, such as severely restricting visiting hours and quarantine schemes resembling indefinite solitary confinement. This has already caused deadly prison riots in many countries, and risks making living conditions even worse, in an environment already prone to violence and abuse.They called on both national and United Nations bodies to continue to strengthen their important oversight and monitoring work, to ensure that legal obligations and norms are upheld by the relevant penal authorities.Many MEPs also criticised prisoner release schemes being used in many places to address overcrowding, when these do not include political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, as is the case in many countries outside the EU. Members described this situation as unacceptable, given that the latter inmates pose less of a threat to the community than some of the other detainees being released.Some of the speakers finally stressed the need to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to reflect more broadly on penal system reforms and rethink, for example, which kinds of crimes actually merit lengthy jail sentences, how to devise alternatives to detention and formulate better policies as regards rehabilitation and reintegration into society.All guest speakers underlined the European Parliament’s crucial role as a watchdog when it comes to keeping all these issues high on the political agenda.

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Reduce overcrowding in prisons to prevent radicalisation, urge MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 7 ottobre 2017

carcereEU member states should improve prison conditions across the EU, so as to protect the health and wellbeing of inmates and staff, favour rehabilitation and reduce the risk of radicalisation, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. To help prevent radicalisation, MEPs also recommend staff training, prison intelligence, interfaith dialogue and psychological care.MEPs say that imprisonment, and especially pre-trial detention, should be a last-resort option, reserved for legally justified cases, and consider it particularly inappropriate for vulnerable individuals such as minors, the elderly, pregnant women and people with serious illnesses.For convicts who do not present a serious danger to society, MEPs advocate alternatives to prison, such as detention at home, community service and electronic tagging.Parliament encourages member states to allocate adequate resources for the refurbishment and modernisation of prisons, adapt detention rules to the prisoners and the level of risk they pose and provide inmates with a balanced programme of activities and time outside their cells . The specific needs of female inmates should also be taken into account, especially during pregnancy and after giving birth, it adds.MEPs also warn that the increasing privatisation of prison systems may worsen detention conditions and undermine respect for fundamental rights. They point to high suicide rates among prisoners and condemn the prison dispersal policy applied by some member states, which they say represents an added penalty affecting prisoner´s families.The own-initiative report was approved by 474 votes to 109, with 34 abstentions.

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With EU prisons overcrowded, Member States should favour alternatives if possible, MEPs say

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 24 giugno 2017

carcereAccording to the Council of Europe, the number of detainees exceeds the number of available places in a third of European penitentiary institutions. Civil Liberties MEPs warn that prison overcrowding impacts the safety of inmates and staff, has adverse effects on health conditions, obstacles rehabilitation and may contribute to radicalization.
They insist that imprisonment, including pre-trial detention, should only be used in legally justified cases, and alternatives, such as home detention or non-custodial punitive measures (e.g., community service work, electronic bracelets), should be prioritized in the case of persons who do not present a serious danger to society.In the case of juvenile offenders, they should always be entitled to access alternative measures to detention regardless of the offence they have committed, according to MEPs. In case of detention, they should be kept separately from adults. The Civil Liberties Committee backed on Wednesday, with 44 votes in favour, four against and three abstentions, an own-initiative report prepared by Joelle Bergeron (EFDD, FR) on prisons’ systems and conditions. The text will be put to a vote in plenary in a future session.Among other ideas, MEPs demand special attention to vulnerable detainees, such as elderly and disabled people. They also point to the specific needs of women, particularly during pregnancy and after they have given birth. They also condemn the prison dispersal policy applied by a number of states, which they see as an added punishment for prisoners’ families.They show concern about the increase of prisons systems’ privatization and underline that staff serving in prisons should have adequate remuneration, proper working conditions and systematic training. In 2014, prisons across the EU were holding over half a million inmates, including both convicted persons, serving their final sentence, and persons accused of a crime who were on remand.

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America’s prisons are failing. Here’s how to make them work

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 27 Maggio 2017

BXP35776SHIRLEY SCHMITT is no one’s idea of a dangerous criminal. She lived quietly on a farm in Iowa, raising horses and a daughter, until her husband died in 2006. Depressed and suffering from chronic pain, she started using methamphetamine. Unable to afford her habit, she and a group of friends started to make the drug, for their own personal use. She was arrested in 2012, underwent drug treatment, and has been sober ever since. She has never sold drugs for profit, but federal mandatory minimum rules, along with previous convictions for drug possession and livestock neglect, forced the judge to sentence her to ten years in prison. Each year she serves will cost taxpayers roughly $30,000—enough to pay the fees for three struggling students at the University of Iowa. When she gets out she could be old enough to draw a pension.Barack Obama tried to reduce the number of absurdly long prison sentences in America. His attorney-general, Eric Holder, told federal prosecutors to avoid seeking the maximum penalties for non-violent drug offenders. This reform caused a modest reduction in the number of federal prisoners (who are about 10% of the total). Donald Trump’s attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, has just torn it up. This month he ordered prosecutors to aim for the harshest punishments the law allows, calling his new crusade against drug dealers “moral and just”. It is neither. Prisons are an essential tool to keep society safe. A burglar who is locked up cannot break into your home. A mugger may leave you alone if he thinks that robbing you means jail. Without the threat of a cell to keep them in check, the strong and selfish would prey on the weak, as they do in countries where the state is too feeble to run a proper justice system.But as with many good things, more is not always better (see article). The first people any rational society locks up are the most dangerous criminals, such as murderers and rapists. The more people a country imprisons, the less dangerous each additional prisoner is likely to be. At some point, the costs of incarceration start to outweigh the benefits. Prisons are expensive—cells must be built, guards hired, prisoners fed. The inmate, while confined, is unlikely to work, support his family or pay tax. Money spent on prisons cannot be spent on other things that might reduce crime more, such as hiring extra police or improving pre-school in rough neighbourhoods. And—crucially—locking up minor offenders can make them more dangerous, since they learn felonious habits from the hard cases they meet inside.America passed the point of negative returns long ago. Its incarceration rate rose fivefold between 1970 and 2008. Relative to its population, it now locks up seven times as many people as France, 11 times as many as the Netherlands and 15 times as many as Japan. It imprisons people for things that should not be crimes (drug possession, prostitution, unintentionally violating incomprehensible regulations) and imposes breathtakingly harsh penalties for minor offences. Under “three strikes” rules, petty thieves have been jailed for life. A ten-year sentence costs ten times as much as a one-year sentence, but is nowhere near ten times as effective a deterrent. Criminals do not think ten years into the future. If they did, they would take up some other line of work. One study found that each extra year in prison raises the risk of reoffending by six percentage points. Also, because mass incarceration breaks up families and renders many ex-convicts unemployable, it has raised the American poverty rate by an estimated 20%. Many states, including Mr Sessions’s home, Alabama, have decided that enough is enough. Between 2010 and 2015 America’s incarceration rate fell by 8%. Far from leading to a surge in crime, this was accompanied by a 15% drop.America is an outlier, but plenty of countries fail to use prison intelligently. There is ample evidence of what works. Reserve prison for the worst offenders. Divert the less scary ones to drug treatment, community service and other penalties that do not mean severing ties with work, family and normality. A good place to start would be with most of the 2.6m prisoners in the world—a quarter of the total—who are still awaiting trial. For a fraction of the cost of locking them up, they could be fitted with GPS-enabled ankle bracelets that monitor where they are and whether they are taking drugs.Tagging can also be used as an alternative to locking up convicts—a “prison without walls”, to quote Mark Kleiman of New York University, who estimates that as many as half of America’s prisoners could usefully be released and tagged. A study in Argentina finds that low-risk prisoners who are tagged instead of being incarcerated are less likely to reoffend, probably because they remain among normal folk instead of sitting idly in a cage with sociopaths.Justice systems could do far more to rehabilitate prisoners, too. Cognitive behavioural therapy—counselling prisoners on how to avoid the places, people and situations that prompt them to commit crimes—can reduce recidivism by 10-30%, and is especially useful in dealing with young offenders. It is also cheap—a rounding error in the $80 billion a year that America spends on incarceration and probation. Yet, by one estimate, only 5% of American prisoners have access to it.Ex-convicts who find a job and a place to stay are less likely to return to crime. In Norway prisoners can start their new jobs 18 months before they are released. In America there are 27,000 state licensing rules keeping felons out of jobs such as barber and roofer. Norway has a lower recidivism rate than America, despite locking up only its worst criminals, who are more likely to reoffend. Some American states, meanwhile, do much better than others. Oregon, which insists that programmes to reform felons are measured for effectiveness, has a recidivism rate less than half as high as California’s. Appeals to make prisons more humane often fall on deaf ears; voters detest criminals. But they detest crime more, so politicians should not be afraid to embrace proven ways to make prison less of a school of crime and more of a path back to productive citizenship. (by The Economist) (photo: prisoner)

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Civil Liberties Committee delegation to observe situation of prisons in Italy

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 22 marzo 2014

rebibbiaA delegation from the Civil Liberties Committee will visit Rome and Naples on 26-28 March to gather information on the functioning of the prisons system in Italy. The delegation will focus its work on detainees’ rights and conditions, pre-trial and prison regime for foreigners and the execution of sentences. MEPs will meet, among others, the Italian Justice Minister, Andrea Orlando, members of the Italian Parliament, staff of Rebibbia (Rome) and Poggioreale (Naples) prisons, detainees and regional and national authorities, as well as NGO and trade union representatives.Swedish brand SeaSam prawns certified Friend of the Sea sustainable
SeaSam Food AB, a Swedish company leader in the frozen food market, positively concluded Friend of the Sea audit for greasy back shrimps, Indian white and giant tiger prawns. Derived products can now display the international sustainability seal of approval.SeaSam is equipped with a batch system which guarantees traceability from producer to customer. All catch zones and fishing vessels are well documented. A well-functioning database records all purchases and sales.SeaSam is sourced in Indonesia. Prawns stocks are compliant with Friend of the Sea strict status requirements. Prawns are caught with selective trammel nets and artisanal fisheries.“We are proud to have obtained the Friend of the Sea certification”, says Petter Rönnqvist, CEO of SeaSam Food AS. “This is a recognition which highlights our efforts towards the preservation of the marine habitat.

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US secret prisons in Europe: a “law of silence” among governments

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 28 marzo 2012

Further evidence is emerging of the possible complicity of some European governments in the CIA’s secret detention programme. At a public hearing of experts on Wednesday, Civil Liberties Committee MEPs deplored the lack of cooperation from EU Member States and are preparing a new report.Hélène Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR), recalled the “serious breaches of human rights, kidnapping, torture, secret detentions, with the complicity of Member States” on which Parliament had sought to shed light until 2007.
Today, “new information has emerged on secret detention sites in Europe (…) there is a great deal of evidence upon which we can build in our work”, said Ms Flautre, who is preparing an own-initiative report. She denounced the “law of silence among governments” on these allegations.Furthermore, those responsible for national inquiries in Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, who had been invited to the hearing, “had each explained, meticulously, why it was impossible for them to attend”, she said.
“Many new elements have emerged since 2007, and especially in the past two years” said Julia Hall, an Amnesty International counter-terrorism and human rights expert, citing recent developments in Lithuania, Finland, Denmark, Romania, Poland and the UK.She deplored the refusal of governments to co-operate on the grounds that information was classified as secret, which, she said, was unjustified. “State secrecy should be invoked only to protect a vital national interest, which is not the case here”, she said.
For the time being, “there is no pressure from public opinion” on governments, “so they don’t care”, said Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE, NL). Furthermore, “we concentrate on countries, but I maintain that there is a collective responsibility”, she added, proposing that all Member States should therefore be covered by the future report.
Amrit Singh, a lawyer representing the Open Society Justice Initiative, presented the cases of Messrs El-Masri et Al-Nashiri, victims of CIA rendition and secret detention in Europe, implicating the authorities of Poland, Romania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. She urged MEPs to “take their responsibility” to ensure that the USA does not single out a country for possible reprisal measures.
In Romania, “many inquiries have been made by MPs and independent media. They have contributed no clarifications, only presumptions”, said Ioan Enciu (S&D, RO).
In 2005, prompted by press reports of CIA activities on European soil, the European Parliament set up a temporary committee of enquiry. Its report, drafted by Claudio Fava, deplored the passivity of certain Member States in the face of the CIA’s illegal operations on their territory and called for an independent inquiry. MEPs pledged to follow up. In the Chair: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)

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