How COVID-19 has exacerbated problems created by excessive use of pre-trial detention

In this expert blog, the President of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, Joel Hernández, writes about alternatives to pre-trial detention in the Americas where the number of people held in remand are excessively high. Commissioner Hernández calls for the use of alternatives as an urgent measure to protect human rights – during the COVID-19 […]

Joel Hernández García15th June 2020

We are 30: Looking forward to the next decade

“It all started with a meeting…” 30 years ago, Vivien Stern, Ahmed Othmani and Hans Tulkens created Penal Reform International. They had in common the belief we still cherish, as stated by Nelson Mandela: “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails”. In other words, the health of criminal justice […]

Florian Irminger21st November 2019

Global Prison Trends 2018: a global view on the state of prisons

PRI has launched its annual flagship publication, Global Prison Trends 2018. Here we publish the foreword to the report, written by the Rt Hon Helen Clark, a Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Every year, Global Prison Trends by […]

Rt Hon Helen Clark15th May 2018

The disappearing trial: towards a rights-based approach to trial waiver systems

With the number of trial waiver systems worldwide increasing nearly 300 per cent since 1990, Jago Russell, Chief Executive of Fair Trials, looks at how this emerging issue can both improve but also undermine human rights protections.  The trial is the archetype of criminal justice. It has captured the public imagination. Just think of the dominance […]

Jago Russell30th August 2017

From interrogating to interviewing suspects of terror: Towards a new mindset

Photo: The terrorist suspect being interviewed by Norwegian police. Provided with kind permission by the author. In 2011, ten years after a new approach of questioning criminal suspects was introduced in Norway called ‘Investigative Interviewing’, the country was struck by a terrorist attack which killed 77 people.  In the aftermath of the attack, Asbjørn Rachlew, […]

Asbjørn Rachlew14th March 2017

Pleading guilty: an overview of the French procedure

In 2015, PRI conducted some preliminary internal research into plea-bargains – an agreement by which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a concession from the prosecutor, usually a lesser charge or a reduced sentence. This is agreed upon in advance, approved by a judge, and a full trial is avoided. Over 30 […]

Akila Taleb-Karlsson9th January 2017

Does the placement of the accused at court undermine the presumption of innocence?

You may be lucky enough to have a lawyer represent you in court, but in many countries, you may struggle to hear what they say or to communicate with them. Over the last 20 years, docks, where the accused is located during trial, have become more ‘secure’, with some enclosed in glass or even behind wire […]

Meredith Rossner, London School of Economics15th December 2016

What are the implications of television cameras in the courtroom?

Filming live court cases might make justice come to life, but do television cameras in a court room make our justice systems more transparent or improve public understanding of legal proceedings? Dr Ruth Herz, German judge and now visiting professor at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, took on the role of a ‘TV judge’ […]

Dr Ruth Herz27th July 2016