The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today released a report on measures aimed at reducing the use of pretrial detention in the Americas. The arbitrary and illegal use of pretrial detention is a chronic problem in the region. The non-exceptional use of this measure is one of the most serious and widespread problems facing member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) in regard to the respect for and guarantee of the rights of persons deprived of liberty.
The Commission recognizes and values the significant efforts made by States to reduce the use of pretrial detention, but its use remains widespread and excessive. In the region, the average number of people in pretrial detention is 36.3% of the total prison population, surpassing 60% in some countries. The measures necessary to reduce the abusive use of pretrial detention and respond to the prison crisis are known, and to some extent already proven. However, the IACHR expresses its concern about the general lack of political will on the part of the States to make effective the implementation of such measures and urges States to take the necessary actions to ensure that preventive detention is used in accordance with its exceptional nature, thus reducing the high levels of overcrowding that characterize the region.
“The excessive use of pretrial detention constitutes an unacceptable structural problem in a democratic society which respects the right of everyone to the presumption of innocence; It represents a practice contrary to the very essence of the rule of law and the values that inspire a democratic society “said the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, Commissioner James Cavallaro.
Likewise, the report provides recommendations aimed at reducing the use of pretrial detention in accordance with international standards in this subject, with an emphasis on the application of alternative measures that allow the accused person to be released while the criminal procedure goes forward. “There are many and important advantages of implementing alternative measures to rationalize the use of pretrial detention and adjust it to inter-American and international standards,” said Rapporteur Cavallaro. “When alternative measures are used, family disintegration and stigmatization of the community is avoided, recidivism rates are reduced and public resources are used more efficiently,” he added.Read More