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Ilac presentation 15 sep 7 am - madhurima dhanuka

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Advocating for release & protecting the rights of people deprived of liberty

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Ilac presentation 15 sep 7 am - madhurima dhanuka

  1. 1. ADVOCATING FOR RELEASE & PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY MADHURIMA DHANUKA COMMONWEALTH HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE, INDIA
  2. 2. TIMELINE MARCH 2020 Supreme Court takes suo moto cognizance – constitutes State-Level Committees -- directs weekly meetings of District-Level Under Trial Review Committees APRIL/MAY 2020 Committee meetings; Identification of eligible prisoners; Filing of bail/parole applications etc. JUNE 2020 Releases: 42,529 unsentenced & 16,391 sentenced prisoners 15.4% decrease in occupancy rates* *This does not take into account number of admissions. Source: CHRI’s tracker https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/content/stateut-wise-prisons-response-to-covid-19-pandemic-in-india
  3. 3. ROLE OF PRISONS  Assisted in identification of cases for release on parole and bail  Coordinated with courts and legal service providers for filing of applications for release  Precautionary measures in furtherance with Ministry of Home Affairs’ Advisory on ‘Management of COVID-19 in Indian Prisons’ along with ‘Standard Operating Procedures for Handling Arrested Persons, Detainees and Inmates during the Pandemic’ ROLE OF COURTS  Supreme court: In re: contagion of covid 19 virus in prisons constituted High Powered Committee a) Chairman of the State Legal Services Committee (SLSA), b) Principal Secretary/Chief Secretary (Home/Prison) and c) Director General of Prisons  District Court:  Remote hearings of urgent matters – bail applications
  4. 4. No. of persons provided legal representation at remand stage No. of bail applications filed of such persons at remand stage No of such bail applications allowed No. of Undertrials represented during trial through legal assistance No. of bail applications filed for undertrials No. of convicts provided legal assistance in filing of appeals No. of convicts provided legal assistance in Parole /Furlough 19184 8779 6113 22024 30291 513 6311 SERVICES BY LEGAL AID PROVIDERS: MARCH TO JULY 2020* *Source: Data received from National Legal Services Authority, India ROLE OF LEGAL AID PROVIDERS  Legal aid providers continued to have access to prisoners – physical and virtual  Filing of applications for bail/parole, finding sureties etc.  Identifying eligible prisoners for consideration by Under Trial Review Committees for release  Providing assistance to released prisoners – ration support etc.
  5. 5. CHRI’S EFFORTS SINCE MARCH 2020 MARCH 2020 -Guidance note on Ensuring Effective Response to COVID-19 in Prisons - Note for High Powered Committees - Note for Undertrial Review Committees APRIL 2020 - Tracked number of releases - now also includes COVID+ cases on website - convening of civil society organisations JUNE 2020 - National Consultation on Prisons & Ensuring Effective Response in collaboration with a state prison department JULY 2020 - Research on Decongestions efforts in prisons - Research on Provisions of Legal Services during the Pandemic AUG 2020 - Checklists: External & Internal Monitoring - Reporting formats: Strengthen HPC efforts of decongestion
  6. 6. LONG TERM LESSONS  Decongestion is possible!  Pre-trial detention should be used as a LAST resort  Better coordinated functioning of criminal justice systems can reduce unnecessary and prolonged detention  Similar decongestion efforts can be conducted on regular intervals to ease overcrowding and reduce period of detention  Prioritisation by governments to improve prison conditions, healthcare facilities and fill staff vacancies are vital to avoid similar situations in future  Sufficient allocation of budgets to prisons and legal services WHAT NEXT?  Documentation of decongestion efforts, impact of COVID-19 on prisons in other jurisdictions  Understanding long term impact of COVID-19 on prisoners’ rights is necessary to develop initiatives to mitigate negative impacts  Convening of the network towards strengthening pre-trial detention safeguards and concerted calls for release and protecting rights of people deprived of liberty
  7. 7. THANK YOU Madhurima Dhanuka PROGRAMME HEAD Prison Reforms Programme, CHRI Email: madhurima@humanrightsinitiative.org

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