The Socioeconomic Impact of Pretrial Detention in Sierra Leone
Excessive and arbitrary pretrial detention is an overlooked form of human rights abuse that affects millions of persons each year, causing and deepening poverty, stunting economic development, spreading disease, and undermining the rule of law. Pretrial detainees may lose their jobs and homes; contract and spread disease; be asked to pay bribes to secure release or better conditions of detention; and suffer physical and psychological damage that last long after their detention ends. Almost half Africa’s prison population consists of people held in pretrial detention, awaiting a trial that may take months or years to materialize. For the first time, a series of reports – produced by the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice (an Open Society Justice Initiative), in collaboration with UNDP and civil society organizations in three West African countries – has captured demographic information of randomly surveyed adult pretrial detainees in Ghana, Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone.