New Bill will provide protection for prisoners

5 March 2011 – Proposed legislation, to be debated in Parliament next week, would limit the time a person is allowed to be held in prison awaiting trial to two years. Eleanor Momberg writes for the Saturday Star.

This means that all detainees languishing in South African prisons for more than two years – some for more than seven years – would have to be released pending the finalisation of their trials, if the Correctional Matters Amendment Bill is adopted.

The correctional services portfolio committee this week approved a redrafted version of the Bill following weeks of discussion.

Besides the limitation on the length of time that awaiting trial detainees may be held in custody, the proposed legislation will increase efforts to ensure that awaiting trial prisoners released into police custody by prison authorities for further investigation will not be tortured.

The Bill sought to improve the administration of medical parole, the management of remand detainees and the parole system in general, including the management and treatment of special needs prisoners, such as pregnant women and the handicapped.

Committee chairman Vincent Smith said of the amendments to the Correctional Services Act, that were intended to be adjusted in 2008, that the new measure stipulated that remand detainees would only be released into police custody with the permission of the Correctional Services Commissioner, and only for seven days.

“There is no possibility of an extension. We do not want a situation where the police arrest people and then investigate the crime. As the Minister of Justice has said people must be arrest ready when they are taken into custody,”  said Smith.

Should an awaiting trial prisoner be released into police custody they would be medically examined by Correctional Services officials prior to the hand over and again on their return.

Read the full story here.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

One Response to New Bill will provide protection for prisoners

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