Upcoming - Workshop for Trial Advocates on Rights of the Accused and Effective Representation. Jaipur, February 5th - 6th, 2011. Organized by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and International Bridges to Justice India (IBJ INDIA).
The idea of this workshop is to highlight the importance of effective advocacy for criminal defense and to strengthen the knowledge and skills in defending the accused by understanding their fundamental rights and the criminal justice procedures.

27 June, 2009: CHRI organized a one-day consultation on 'Monitoring Prisons: Protection of Rights of Under-trial Prisoners' in Bhubaneswar.

The consultation was organized in collaboration with the Orissa prisons department. The emphasis of the consultation was on generating a discussion on unnecessary detention, legal-aid and rights of under-trial prisoners. It provided a platform to prison officers, members of State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), members of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), and civil society from across the state to reflect together on coordination efforts to improve prison conditions and safeguard the rights of under-trial prisoners. The sessions were structured to share information about prisoners' rights, prison monitoring and various Cr.P.C amendments.

The objectives of the consultation were to facilitate a discussion among the various concerned agencies (prison department, SLSA, SHRC and civil society members) about the rights of under-trial prisoners and monitoring of prisons; identify the role of each agency in safeguarding the rights of under-trial prisoners and derive ways to ensure the longevity of the key strategies; bring to the fore the problems and constraints that the various agencies face in collaborating with each other, and arriving at solutions; and highlight steps that the individual agencies should take in order to ensure smooth functioning of the prison machinery.

27-30 May, 2009: Human Rights and Prison Monitoring: A workshop organized by CHRI for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in New Delhi.

The workshop was designed to equip the participants with a better understanding of the gamut of international and national laws on human rights in the context of prisons, share best practices of prison monitoring, and improve on ways to monitor and investigate cases of human rights violations behind bars.

CHRI organized a four day training workshop for the monitoring and investigation officers of the Commission. We put together an agenda covering key features of prison monitoring, included a prison visit (Tihar Jail, New Delhi) and a visit to the National Human Rights Commission (New Delhi) and set-up an interactive session with the members of the NHRC. The workshop saw the participation of 17 delegates from the AIHRC and was successfully conducted from May 27th to 30th.

The format for discussions was informal. Each session had a presentation putting forward three focus areas for discussion - Human Rights in Prisons, Monitoring of Prisons: Key Strategies, and Monitoring Prisons: Capacity Building. The idea was to bring all these issues to the table and compare the practices as seen in Indian prisons, leaving plenty of time for discussion.

The sessions dealt with the issue of torture, monitoring death, monitoring women prisons and child detention centers, skills and techniques of investigation, basic knowledge of forensics, and civilian oversight with a focus on lay prison visiting system. The sessions were dotted with games and group activities and suggested ways in which national human rights institutions can prevent torture and provide redress to victims. The sessions also aimed at sharing good practices in prison administration, discussed effective monitoring and investigation strategies and zoomed-in on how to write effective reports and document custodial violence.

28 March 2009: CHRI held a national consultation on 'Under-trial Prisoners, Unnecessary Detention and the Law' in New Delhi with an aim to bring together prison officials and civil society members from across the states to reflect together on three critical issues pertaining to under-trial prisoners: Bail, Jail Adalats and Video-Conferencing.

Many states across the country host jail adalats/special courts quite regularly and also use video-conferencing to extend the remand period of under-trial prisoners. The aim was to gauge good practices with a view to adapt them in states across India. The discussion focused on the theoretical and practical aspects of using video-conferencing and holding jail-adalats so as to arrive at an understanding of whether these practices should be encouraged, discouraged or adopted with certain safeguards.

17 January 2009: CHRI held a consultation on 'Monitoring of Prisons' in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh State Legal Services Authority in Hyderabad.

The participants were secretaries of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA). The DLSA secretaries must visit the jails in their district once every month under the mandate of the A.P. High Court. Learning from the experience of these visitors, the consultation aimed to discuss the challenges faced by the visitors and thus bring out the best practices for monitoring prisons. In principle, the consultation aimed to forge constructive solutions rather than merely apportion blame. What to see, what to do, how to follow up, whom to address grievances, were some of the key questions upon which the consultation revolved.

The Consultation elucidated some vital issues on monitoring prison conditions. Even though there has been improvement in prison conditions across the state, the delegates felt that a lot more work is still required. The consultation proved very valuable, and fundamental questions regarding the need to care for prisoners and the importance of the role of a prison visitor were answered. The interactive discussions revolved around health care and ensuring legal rights of prisoners. The need for easy availability of prison manuals and access to information regarding status of their cases was omnipresent.


For earlier workshops click here