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Prison overcrowding threatens peacekeeping efforts: UN official

[JURIST] UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien [appointment release] has found that prison overcrowding in countries with UN peacekeeping missions threatens the success of those missions, the UN Press Centre reported [text] Monday. O'Brien made the remarks at a UN Department of Peacekeeping (DPKO) [official website] meeting, and blamed the frequent overcrowding on ineffective judicial systems and long pre-trial detentions. At the same meeting, Assistant-Secretary-General of Rule of Law and Institutions Dmitry Titov [appointment release] said that the shortcomings reduce confidence in the rule of law and inhibit peace efforts. In July, the DPKO applauded [UN News Centre report] the introduction of 200 new prison guards by Haiti [JURIST news archives], which faces severe overcrowding problems.

Prison overcrowding is a problem faced by a number of countries around the world. In June, the government of Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] announced plans to release certain inmates [press briefing; JURIST report] who have served half their prison sentences in order to reduce the country's overcrowded prison populations. Earlier that month, the Third Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that a plan to ease prison overcrowding by transferring prisoners to out-of-state facilities did not violate the state's constitution [text]. The UK has also instituted a plan to release inmates ahead of schedule, and Iraq has experienced increasing overcrowding problems [JURIST reports].

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