Interim Issue | 08 November 2022

Message from the Network on External Prison Oversight & Human Rights

Below is a brief summary of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) annual conference, which was held in Orlando, Florida from October 23 to 29, 2022.

The theme of the conference, Excelling Beyond the 'Old' Normal: Corrections after the Global Pandemic, allowed for a diversity of panels and presentations exploring how prison authorities responded to COVID-19 and what measures were being taken to ensure safe and humane custody around the world. We learned about innovative solutions to unforeseeable challenges. We learned about centering experiences over outcomes, and promoting human thriving rather than fixating on risk reduction.

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Network Chair

Emad Talisman, Deputy Chair

The tone of the conference was set by Terry Hackett (Head of the Persons Deprived of Liberty Unit for the International Committee of the Red Cross) during his keynote address, where he said:

"When we preserve dignity we gain that which binds us together: our humanity."

Our Network hosted one plenary panel, titled, “External Prison Oversight, Human Rights and the Pandemic: International Perspectives.” For this panel, I was joined by Michael Horowitz (Inspector General, US Department of Justice) and Fiona Rafter (Inspector, Custodial Services, New South Wales, Australia). Our PowerPoint presentations are available at the end of this issue. 

From left to right: Paul Crookall (moderator), Fiona Rafter, Ivan Zinger, and Michael Horowitz.

We also hosted a Network meeting during the conference. In the end, we were able to add to our membership 26 new members, resulting in a total membership of 139 from 29 countries. During the meeting, we enjoyed hearing from those present about their work. Participants also shared a general interest in learning more about how prison oversight and monitoring bodies functioned in other countries. We will continue to address this need through our network newsletters.

Mark Your Calendar!

Next year’s 2023 ICPA Annual Conference is scheduled to be in BELGIUM

(Details to be announced)

Network Member Activities

Our network members have been quite busy over the past few months, so we wish to draw your attention to some of the great work that has been done and other items that are ongoing.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales, Annual Report (2021-22).

Covering 63 inspection, scrutiny visit and thematic reports published between Apr. 2021 and the end of Mar. 2022, in this report, Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor, "outlines how long lock-up times and a lack of purposeful activity in prisons have barely changed and in some cases deteriorated since the Inspectorate’s first Annual Report in 1982."

Click here to read

ACT Inspector of Correctional Services, Annual Report (2021-22).

Over the reporting year, the Australian Capital Territory's Inspector of Correctional Services was designated as a National Preventative Mechanism under the UN OPCAT. This report, prepared under the leadership of Neil McAllister, also includes Critical Incident Reviews and the second Healthy Prison Review of an ACT prison.

Click here to read

Department of Justice, Ireland

In June 2022, Ireland's Department of Justice issued a press release to announce the publication of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill. This bill provides for the designation of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) "to allow Ireland to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT)". Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill is underway.

Click here to read

Canada's Office of the Correctional Investigator, 49th Annual Report (2021-22).

The report includes three national investigations, including updates on the experiences and outcomes of Black and Indigenous persons in federal custody, as well as a review of restrictive confinement conditions and practices since the elimination of solitary confinement in 2019.

Click here to read

This summer, many of you joined the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in celebrating Nelson Mandela Day by affirming your commitment to the Mandela Rules, and sharing your experiences with translating the rules into action. By searching the hashtag #DignityUnlocked you can follow and join the conversation online. Please check out the resources below to learn more about the Mandela Rules, prison reform, and alternatives to incarceration.

UNODC Prison Reform Website

Next Newsletter

As announced earlier this year, our next newsletter will be published some time in December. The theme will be "External Monitoring and Oversight of Women in Places of Detention." We are truly grateful to all those who agreed to contribute - it's shaping up to be a great issue.

Click here to read past issues of our newsletter.

ICPA Network Panel: PowerPoint Presentations

COVID-19 & Canadian Federal Corrections: A Prison Ombuds Perspective

Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator of Canada.

Click here for PowerPoint

External Prison Oversight, Human Rights and the Pandemic: an Australian and New South Wales Perspective

Fiona Rafter, Inspector of Custodial Services, Australia.

Click here for PowerPoint

External Prison Oversight, Human Rights, and the Pandemic: the US Office of the Inspector General

Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General, USA.

Click here for PowerPoint

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