Pre-trial guidelines to be introduced at African Commission

Civil society hopes to introduce Guidelines on the Use and Conditions of Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa to the 52nd session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights being held in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire from 9 - 22 October 2012. It is hoped the Commission will eventually adopt the guidelines as a resolution of the Commission.

The Special Rapportuer on Prisons and Conditions of Detention, Commissioner Med Kaggwa, has been requested to promote the introduction of a guideline on the use and conditions of police custody and pre-trial detention (the Guidelines) at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

The ACHPR has a mandate to develop a guideline on pre-trial detention as Article 45(b) of the African Charter provides the ACHPR with power to ‘to formulate and lay down principles and rules aimed at solving legal problems relating to human and peoples’ rights and fundamental freedoms upon which African states may base their legislation.’

The Special Rapporteur has been request to submit a zero draft of the proposed guideline to the ACHPR at the 52nd session with the recommendation that:

  • The ACHPR agrees to encourage and facilitate further public participation in the form of the publication of the draft text on and an invitation for comment within a set timeframe
  • The office of the Special Rapporteur, with assistance if necessary collates and analyses submissions ahead of the 53nd session of the ACHPR
  • Opportunity be created for oral submission on the margins of the 53rd ACHPR session by those having submitted written submissions on the draft
  • The ACHPR explore the avenues of giving formal recognition to the guidelines in due course.

The situation of pre-trial detainees in all custodial settings warrants urgent action for a number of reasons, not least because conditions of detention for pre-trial detainees in police lock-ups and prisons frequently fail to meet established international and regional minimum standards for the treatment of persons
deprived of their liberty.

The letter to the Commissioner requesting his assistance in submitting the draft Guidelines, and the draft Guidelines themselves are available here.


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