oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The constitutional rights of prisoners in selected African countries: a comparative review

Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



It is a basic principle of international human rights law that prisoners do not lose their fundamental rights, except those that are incidental to their lawful detention. Accordingly, almost all important international human rights instruments make provision for the rights of prisoners. There are also specific instruments particularly designed to provide for international human rights norms for prisoners. The most important of these is the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In tandem with these international human rights instruments, many countries have incorporated prisoners' rights in their various constitutions. The purpose of this article is to make a comparative analysis of how a few selected African countries have made provision for prisoners' rights in their constitutions. The article will also discuss the role of the national courts and the approaches they have adopted in applying and interpreting such rights. Whether the constitutional and judicial protection of prisoners' rights in these countries translates into the actual enjoyment of such rights is of course, another story.

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