Foreign nationals tend to be over represented in prison systems in many countries; and sometimes there are separate prisons or parts of prisons for foreign nationals.
The rate of detained foreign nationals is staggeringly high in some countries, like in United Arab Emirates where the proportion is over 90 per cent. In Europe, foreign nationals make up an average of 21 percent of the prison population.
The increase in the population of imprisoned foreign nationals is a result of several factors, including mass movement of people across the world. The ongoing punitive approaches to immigration-related offences and drug policies in many countries have also impacted foreign nationals who face disadvantages during the criminal justice process. They may be targeted by the police, and then encounter language barriers, a lack of access to legal aid, discriminatory sentencing. Many are excluded from alternatives to imprisonment by virtue of their status.
Foreign nationals’ experience of prison is characterised by isolation, language barriers, limited or no family contact, discrimination and a limited understanding of the prison regime and broader criminal justice procedures. In addition, they face challenges linked to immigration status — such as deportation — as well as difficulty in accessing rehabilitation programmes. One distinctive right that foreign national have is access to consular support, although diplomatic missions are often not able or willing to provide this.
One of PRI’s key ambitions for 2020-2023 is to respond to discrimination in law and in practice against foreign nationals, stateless persons, and persons that have no identified nationality. PRI’s work towards ensuring respect for the human rights of stateless persons or individuals without identification of their nationality in the criminal justice system will increase, including work to protect those that are criminalised due to their legal status.
Ethnic and religious minorities
Rehabilitation and reintegration