From petty bribery to large-scale misappropriation of funds, corruption is rife throughout the criminal justice process in many countries and has serious implications both for the human rights of detainees and the efficient administration of justice.
Corruption occurs in police stations, prosecutors’ offices, the judiciary and in prisons. It might be a reason why a person is detained in the first place, but it might also affect their ability to access due process, to access the most basic rights and services in detention and even their ability to stay safe from harm. Prisons are high-risk environments for corruption, especially where there is a lack of transparency and public oversight.
Corruption can affect a person’s access to adequate bedding, or even water. It may see a individual put into solitary confinement for alleged misbehaviour and being required to pay a bribe to have the incident removed from their disciplinary record.
In some cases, people in detention are actively involved in and initiate corrupt practices in prisons. some prisons are home to large black markets and can become havens for criminal groups operating from within, with or without the assistance of corrupt prison staff.
Poor detention standards can exacerbate corruption, where corrupt prison officers may extort money from inmates with greater financial means in exchange for greater privileges, services or benefits. This is particularly likely in contexts where prison staff are not adequately paid or there is a shortage of staff. Addressing pay and working conditions can be an effective way to tackle corruption in prisons.
As part of our 2020-2023 strategy we will mainstream anti-corruption in our programmes. As a highly sensitive and complex issue a solutions-oriented and diplomatic approach will be adopted. We are working to decrease the prevalence of corruption in penitentiary settings and criminal justice systems through recommendations including increasing transparency, accountability and oversight, establishing clear procedures for record-keeping of decisions, and improving recruitment and training of staff and developing codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures.
Working conditions of staff