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Australian based Advocacy Support Group requests clemency for Australian facing death penalty

The F.P.S.S has contacted the president of Singapore with a personal plea for clemency for an Australian man currently on death row.

The Australian man, Nguyen Tuong Van, 24, is currently on Changi's death row after being convicted of trafficking 400 grams heroin. He was arrested at Changi Airport in 2002 while in transit from Cambodia to Australia. Nguyen's appeal against his death sentence was denied by the Singapore High Court.

Singapore President S.R. Nathan, is currently considering an appeal for clemency in the case. The 24-year-old Mr. Van has been helping a Federal Police investigation into an Australia-based international drug syndicate, in the hope that his co-operation will strengthen the appeal for clemency. If clemency is denied, Nguyen Tuong Van will be hanged at Changi Prison on short notice.

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  • Amnesty urges Singapore to halt executions

    Zimbabwe releases foreign prisoners

    ZIMBABWE officially released 62 foreigners today who were jailed for a year over an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, but they were kept in a prison complex pending deportation, their lawyer said.

    The group, all with South African passports, were arrested in March 2004 after their plane was impounded during a stopover at Harare international airport. They were jailed on immigration and firearms charges.

    "They have been discharged and they are awaiting for immigration to deport them to South Africa. They are packed and ready to go," Jonathan Samkange told reporters outside Harare's Chikurubi high security prison complex where the men remained even after their technical release. Samkange said he was trying to arrange immigration formalities so the men could be transported to the border and deported.

    The men could face an uncertain future once back in South Africa, which has strict laws against mercenary activity.

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    Thousands of Prisoners Released in Uzbek Town

    Uzbekistan's eastern town of Andijan has seen dramatic events unfolding overnight, as crowds of people have gathered calling for freedom.

    During the night, a group of armed men broke open Andijan jail, freeing everyone inside. BBC informs of as many as 4,000 inmates, both political prisoners and ordinary criminals.

    Snipers are said to have fired on the demonstrators gathered outside the mayor's office in the main square.

    Reports say three of the snipers have been pulled down by the crowd, with military helicopters flying overhead.

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    Dreams of Justice in Bangkok

    Delegates from a U.N. meeting on crime and justice in Bangkok last month went on a visit to the notorious women's prison at Lard Yao. The visit and the official reports were obviously stage-managed by the Thai authorities for another propaganda parade.

    Unofficial reports say that foreign prisoners held at the women's prison were carefully kept away from the visiting delegates in case they spoke about what really goes on there when the place is not theatre-managed for official visits.

    Meanwhile, Vishnu Kumari Vishta, a 69-year-old Nepali inmate, who had recently become yet another victim of TB and internal problems in the prison, was suffering in the nearby Klong Prem Prison Hospital. It is all the more revealing of Thai justice that she had been told by officials she would be released in last August's Queen's amnesty, but it didn't happen! I don't think she was allowed to meet the delegates.

    How it seems to U.N. delegates and the official press is not how it really is in Thailand's "Brokedown Palace"!

    The prison is seriously overcrowded. Prisoners sleep on the floor like sardines almost on top of eachother. The food is terrible and prisoners only have a short time to eat it. The water is dirty. Prisoners are effectively forced to labour for little or no credit on their prison accounts, and they must pay even for bare essentials like soap and decent food. Is it any wonder that many prisoners suffer from stomache, and other internal, ailments? Is it any wonder that the number of TB cases is high?

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    Trader protests Lao treatment

    A businessman yesterday urged Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawa-tra to ensure that Vientiane provides better protection to Thai investors in Laos.

    Sithian Na Songkhla, who submitted his petition to the prime minister at Government House in the morning, was accompanied by about 50 workers from his timber business in Laos.

    The businessman said that he had secured a lumber concession in the Lao province of Sayaboury, a business in which he invested more than Bt100 million. He claimed the governor of Sayaboury, Sombat Yialiher, had ordered the seizure of his timber-processing plant and eight years' worth of cut timber.

    Sithian said he had brought the case to trial and that the Lao Supreme Court later ruled in his favour.

    He said the governor had, however, ignored the court judgement and the Lao government was unable to do anything about it. The businessman added that he had filed a petition with the Thai Foreign Ministry and was still awaiting a response.

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    Aussie facing 10 years' jail over hash

    ANOTHER Australian has been arrested with drugs in Bali, following in the footsteps of the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby and prompting denials from Balinese police that Australians have been targeted.

    John Julian Pyle, a 42-year-old South Australian, was arrested in his bungalow in the expatriates' enclave of Sayan, near Ubud, north of Bali's capital, Denpasar.

    Police raided Mr Pyle's home before dawn on Sunday morning, and allegedly found 1.8g of hashish kept in a plastic bag, a small bottle and a condom box.

    Police say the web designer has admitted his guilt and faces up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of 500,000,000 rupiah ($68,122).

    Mr Pyle told The Australian last night he "was a little bit surprised about the whole thing but other than that I am okay".

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  • Bali drug bust shocks mother
  • Australian arrested on Bali island for possession of hashish

    Police move in after Tasmanian prison siege ends

    POLICE have moved into Hobart's Risdon Prison following the end of a tense, two-day siege at the maximum security jail.

    The 41-hour stand-off ended peacefully about 8am (AEST) when the last prisoner walked out of the jail's damaged reception area.

    A full forensic examination is now under way and the prison will remain locked down today.

    The siege wrapped up after a breakthrough overnight when warder Ken Henner was released by inmates unharmed.

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  • Risdon Prison's infamous past
  • Ex-prisoner tells of maggots in food
  • Behold the power of pizza
  • Tasmanian Inmates take warder captive
  • UPDATE - Risdon Prison siege ends peacefully
  • Mother, fiancee defend inmate
  • Campaigners call for Risdon reform

    Hundreds of S. African smugglers behind bars in other countries: report

    JOHANNESBURG, 05/07 - There are 865 South Africans in prisons across the world for trying to smuggle drugs from South Africa into foreign countries, local daily Die Burger reported on Saturday.

    The report said that syndicates canvass these so-called drug mules to smuggle drugs out of the country.

    The mules receive between 20,000 rand and 50,000 rand for their trouble, depending on the type and amount of drugs they smuggle.

    Superintendent Ronnie Naidoo said the swallowing of condoms filled with drugs was still the preferred method of smuggling drugs.

    Seventy of the 107 drug mules arrested last year had swallowed the consignments.

    Naidoo said mostly middle-aged, white people, who were financially unstable, were targeted by the syndicates.

    They are regarded as a lower risk, and they can travel as tourists or businessmen. However, people of all racial groups have been arrested.

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    Media under fire over Bali Nine 'bug'

    INDONESIAN police have threatened to crack down on foreign journalists covering the Schapelle Corby trial and investigations into the Bali Nine after they accused an Australian TV crew of illegally taping conversations with a suspect.

    The chief spokesman for Bali police, Colonel AS Reniban, claimed the crew had secretly placed a radio microphone on one of the Bali Nine's parents, who had visited their son behind bars.

    Col Reniban said Australian journalists in Bali were not respecting local laws or Indonesian journalistic ethics.

    He also complained about the chaos of media scrums.

    Last month a window at Bali's police headquarters was broken in a crush of reporters, photographers and cameramen.

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    Teen sentenced over drugs in Cambodia

    A Cambodian court has convicted a Chinese-Australian teenager of attempting to traffic 2.1 kilos of heroin into Australia via Hong Kong and sentenced him to 13 years imprisonment, local media reported.

    Gordon Vuong, 16, was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on January 22 with the heroin concealed on his body and was sentenced to 13 years by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported.

    "The sentence is still light. If he was not a minor, he could face at least 20 years in jail," the paper quoted presiding judge, Kim Sophorn, as saying.

    Cambodian-Australian Yen Karat, 26, and Cambodian national Ek Sam Oeun, 47, who are charged with helping to conceal the drugs on Vuong's body, are still in jail awaiting trial.

    Australian diplomats in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the case.

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    Hundreds of Kiwis in overseas cells

    More than 600 New Zealanders are being held in overseas jails accused of offences ranging from drug trafficking to violent crime.

    New Zealand embassies provided advice and help for 261 Kiwis arrested abroad in the year from June 2003 to June 2004 and assisted 75 prisoners.

    Though most of the Kiwis are held in Australia, six are jailed in Japan, three in Thailand, one in India, one in China, two in Cambodia, one in the Middle East and eight in Europe and America.

    The statistics, supplied by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, represent the number of New Zealanders who have been in contact with embassies. They do not account for people who may be imprisoned but have not sought the help of the New Zealand Government.

    It is believed most have been charged with drug offences. Some have fallen foul of strict drug laws in Southeast Asia, where punishments can bring life sentences or sometimes death.

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    Open season for journalists reporting justice Bali-style

    THE angular young man had been detained at Bali's police headquarters for days when he complained of a toothache. Arrested in connection with one of the biggest heroin-smuggling attempts in Balinese history, Michael Czugaj was taken to the nearby police hospital for attention, where he fortuitously came across a television crew from Channel9's A Current Affair.

    The crew shot their exclusive interview while Czugaj's father held newspaper to the windows to prevent other journalists looking in. Staff from the police hospital stood by, watching. Competing journalists stood outside, fulminating.

    Journalists in Indonesia enjoy remarkable access to prisoners, courts and police; in fact, to the whole array of state apparatus.

    Cameras have been thrust into rooms where the heroin suspects are being interrogated. Reporters have shot rapid-fire questions at each of the nine accused drug-smugglers on their slow marches across the police headquarters' grounds.

    And the press pack has deluged the suspects with questions while they sit in the holding cell, some of which have even elicited a response.

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    Facts and Stats: Australians imprisoned overseas

    Although they may be the most well known, Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine are not the only Australians detained in overseas prisons. The Department of Foreign Affairs says there are a total of 104 Australians currently overseas who are under arrest, or convicted of drugs charges. Of those two are currently facing death.

    Their statistics show the largest number of those detained — 36 in total, including the Bali Nine — are in jails across South East Asia.

    The second largest group of 15 are serving time in North America, while another 13 are in Europe.

    There are 12 Australians on drugs charges in North Asia and Japan, and 11 others in South Central America.

    The South Pacific also has 11 Australians detained in their jails, while India and the Middle East have six.

    In both Singapore and Vietnam, two Australians will be handed the death penalty if their clemency fails.

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    Stinking jail cell a dose of reality

    THEY are seduced by glamorous offers of international travel and instant riches - but the reality of a stinking Bali jail cell couldn't be further from the truth.

    The Bali Nine are now being held in three different cell blocks, split up by Indonesian police after claims the alleged ringleaders- Myuran Sukumaran, 24, and Andrew Chan, 21 - had threatened their co-accused.

    All the cellblocks are hot, filthy and crowded. Prisoners sleep on carpet or rattan mats on the floor. Police have said this is standard practice and the Australians will not be treated any differently to other inmates.

    Most crowded is the main police jail at Polda where the alleged "mules" are held - Renae Lawrence, 27, Martin Stephens, 29, and 19-year-olds Michael Czugaj and Scott Rush. Lawrence shares the 4m by 5m women's cell with three Indonesians, who lie side by side at night to sleep.

    Behind this are two cells, twice the size of the women's cell, where about 20 men are crammed, including the three Aussies. Each cell has an Indonesian-style squat toilet and a tub of water for bathing, where cold water is ladled over one's body. Toilet paper is not provided but families can bring it in, along with towels and food.

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    TV vultures pick over Bali carcasses

    While Schapelle Corby and the Bali nine wait out their future in Denpasar cells, the one certainty is that Canberra has a legal mess on its hands that could unfold on television screens for years.

    Australians are struggling to make sense of a Indonesian legal system that seems wildly chaotic compared to the staid courtrooms they are used to.

    As a tearful Corby pleaded with judges to look to God and show mercy in their verdict, television crews outside fought among themselves and photographers sprawled and smashed into trees as they jostled to get close to the hapless former student.

    Across town, in the usually-quiet Bali police headquarters lockup, the scene was no better.

    Network producers battled to lock down exclusive rights to the stories of the Bali nine, while families wandered into the crush of media wearing radio microphones, ready to capture the drama of their reunion with children who may face the death penalty.

    One media representative from a network which has sent six television crews to Bali was elbowed to the ground by news photographers as he sought to shut down access to one of his "exclusives" in the alleged heroin gang.

    Another television team told police they were family to get themselves into the exercise courtyard used by the nine Australians.

    They were kicked out when police were alerted by competitors watching from outside.

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  • Australian anger will condemn those in Bali
  • High profile cases reveal flaws in Indonesian justice system

    Yvonne Randall Story - an innocent woman imprisoned in Abu Dhabi

    As Schapelle Corby languishes in a Bali prison, businesswoman Yvonne Randall reveals the terror of spending three months in an Arab prison.

    Through the bars of her jail window, Yvonne Radall saw the stars gleaming in the desert sky and dreampt of home. For 3 months the Gold Coast businesswoman was imprisoned in Al-Wathba jail, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

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    Life sentence for 1kg heroin

    A NIGERIAN-born man was yesterday sentenced in Bali to life in jail for bringing 1.1kg of heroin to the tourist island.

    The 40-year-old escaped the death sentence because he was found guilty of supply and not of importing or exporting the drug.

    In sentencing Akujobi, the judges said the factors that had weighed in his favour included the fact he was still young and had an opportunity to reform himself, that he had no criminal record and he had been well-behaved and polite during the trial.

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    Another Guantanamo prison on Australian island

    Australia is planning to build a Guantanamo-like prison on Christmas Island

    There are growing concerns that Australia is planning to build a Guantanamo-like prison on Christmas Island, Australian news sources reported today.

    The source said that the island, located in the Indian Ocean 2600 km north-west of Perth, Western Australia, is expected to be another “Guantanamo Bay” if a change in Australian Commonwealth immigration policy takes place.

    Christmas Island Shire President Gordon Thomson has received information on the Australian Government’s plan to put on the island all refugees who arrive in the country by boat.

    "If the Australian Parliament can excise part of Australia from the effect of any law then one could rationally argue that it’s possible to excise Christmas Island from other laws," he said.

    Even though it is an Australian Territory, its closest neighbour is Java, 360km away.

    The island, 23.7 km long and 7km wide, has a population of only about 1500 people.

    The Australian Government is now building a multi-million dollar, detention center on the island, and Mr. Thompson is concerned it will lack proper Government regulation, as it is a remote island.

    "Christmas Island is remote, it’s excised from the migration zone," Mr. Thomson said.

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    Teenager wanted out of HK deal

    A SYDNEY teenager, accused of trying to smuggle heroin-filled condoms into Australia, has been returned to a notorious Hong Kong women's prison after her father failed to have the trainee hairdresser released on bail.

    Rachel Ann Diaz, 17, was on the verge of tears as she appeared in the dock alongside her 15-year-old co-defendant, Sydney McDonald's worker Chris Ha Vo, accused of trying to smuggle $1million worth of heroin.

    The pair stood in the dock alongside Chinese prostitutes, and Ms Diaz, looking bewildered and nervous, only smiled when she glanced towards her father, who had flown from Sydney to try to win his daughter's release.

    At a hearing in a frantically busy courthouse in the heart of Kowloon yesterday, Ms Diaz's father sat in the public gallery with a female believed to be her younger sister.

    Ms Diaz kept glancing over and smiling at her father and at one point blew him a kiss. Her father responded to her by crossing his hands over his heart. She never once looked at Mr Vo, who had no family present at the hearing and made no application for bail.

    The pair was arrested in a Hong Kong hotel room last week, when police burst into their room and found them with 114 packets of heroin in 5cm-long tied condoms and glove fingers. They were charged with trafficking dangerous drugs.

    They were allegedly to be paid $200 for each packet they swallowed, meaning they could have earned $22,800 between them if they had swallowed all the condoms - about one-40th of their $1million street value in Sydney.

    However, it emerged yesterday that Ms Diaz was backing out of the deal just before police raided the room the pair had shared for a week at the Imperial Hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui backpacker district.

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    Two Belgians released from Guantanamo

    WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department announced Tuesday it transferred two detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Belgian government.

    So far, 234 detainees have left Guantanamo. In addition to the 18 announced Tuesday, 149 have been released outright and 67 transferred to the control of other governments: 29 to Pakistan, five to Morocco, nine to Great Britain, seven to France, seven to Russia, four to Saudi Arabia, two to Belgium, and one each to Spain, Sweden, Kuwait and Australia.

    The Combatant Status Review Tribunal process was conceived by the Pentagon last year in response to a Supreme Court ruling that said prisoners could challenge their detention in court. The Pentagon hopes the tribunals will be accepted by the courts as meeting the Geneva Convention requirement for neutral hearings to determine the status of military prisoners.

    The military freed 18 prisoners a week ago without charges -- 17 from Afghanistan and one from Turkey.

    There are now approximately 520 prisoners at Guantanamo, which was created to house prisoners taken in the global war on terror. Some prisoners have been held since January 2002.

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    Amnesty urges Singapore to halt executions

    Human rights group Amnesty International has appealed for Singapore's Government to declare a moratorium on executions.

    A Melbourne man is currently on death row after being convicted for heroin smuggling.

    According to Amnesty, Singapore executes more people than any other country relative to its population size.

    It renewed the call for Singapore to abolish the death penalty by citing unofficial figures that claim six people were executed by hanging last year.

    Singapore's President, SR Nathan, is currently considering an appeal for clemency in the case of Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van.

    He was arrested with 400 grams of heroin at Changi Airport three years ago. If the appeal fails, Nguyen will be hanged.

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    South African jailed for life over Bali heroin offences

    A South African man has been sentenced to life in prison, after being convicted of heroin offences on the Indonesian island of Bali.

    Martin Christopher Akuyabi, 40, from Johannesburg, was arrested last August in his hotel room in Bali.

    Police said they found around 1 kilogram of heroin stashed in biscuit packages, soap and perfume boxes.

    "(The court) declares the defendant ... guilty of carrying out crimes against the law by providing narcotics type one," presiding judge Linton Siregar told the Denpasar District Court.

    Akuyabi's lawyer, Christo Immanuel Dugis, said he would appeal against the conviction.

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    Australian faces firing squad in Vietnam

    An Australian of Vietnamese origin has been given the death penalty by a Vietnamese court for trafficking in heroin.

    Nguyen Van Chinh, 45, was found guilty of illegally trafficking 1050 grams of heroin and was sentenced to die by firing squad.

    Chinh was sentenced in a one-day trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday after spending more than two years in jail since his arrest in 2002.

    Chinh was born in Vietnam but had permanent residency status in Sydney. A Foreign Affairs official said an Australian consular officer was at the trial and that Chinh had 15 days to lodge an appeal against the death sentence.

    Three Vietnamese women involved in the case have been given jail terms ranging from 20 years to life in prison on the same charges.

    All four were found guilty of smuggling drugs from Vietnam to Australia on several occasions.

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    A 'naive kid' pays the price for easy money


    Top row, from left: Renae Lawrence, 27, Wallsend, Newcastle; Si Yi Chen, 20, Doonside, Sydney; Andrew Chan, 21, Enfield, Sydney
    Second row, from left: Matthew James Norman, 18, Quakers Hill, Sydney; Martin Eric Stephens, 29, Towradgi, near Wollongong; Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, 27, Brisbane
    Last row, from left: Scott Anthony Rush, 19, Brisbane; Michael William Czugaj, 19, Brisbane; Myuran Sukumaran, 24, Auburn, Sydney Photo: Agencies
    By all accounts, Renae Lawrence was desperate for money.

    Her car had broken down two months ago and would cost at least $1000 to get back on the road. On top of that, she had car loan repayments and a mounting credit card debt.

    After paying for food and rent, there was little money left over from her job at catering firm Eurest, at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

    It was a chance meeting with a colleague, Andrew Chan - the alleged mastermind of a heroin smuggling operation - that could, she thought, solve all her money problems.

    According to Mr Lawrence, his daughter was naive and easily led. She had never left Australia before.

    "Somebody has bought her a passport and the plane ticket," he said. "Maybe somebody offered this to her and said 'There's no risk' (and) not knowing what it involved or anything else she has gone along with it."

    Word filtered back from Bali yesterday that Lawrence had tried to pull out of the drugs operation.

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  • Click Here for Updates on this Case
  • Room 136: four guests, luggage and a police raid
  • Fast food workers who couldn't resist fast cash
  • I'm innocent, says Bali accused
  • Four Bali drug suspects to face lesser charges
  • Heroin on way to Australia: AFP
  • Families seek advice as Bali probe continues
  • Australia accused of exporting death penalty over drug arrests in Bali
  • Nine held in Bali heroin bust
  • Aussies arrested over Bali heroin haul
  • Australians 'will face firing squad if convicted'
  • Staring death in the face
  • Accused drug-runners face more questions
  • Drug accused's family 'distraught'

    Afghans working for hostage release

    AFGHAN authorities are continuing negotiations to release an Italian aid worker in her fifth day of captivity after identifying her abductor, President Hamid Karzai said today.

    "We are working on releasing her safely and we want her release for the good of Afghanistan, Italy and aid work in Afghanistan," Mr Karzai told reporters at a news conference in Kabul ahead of his visit to Washington.

    He said security forces had identified the kidnapper and the hostage-taking did not appear to be the work of an organised group of Islamic militants.

    "Whoever has kidnapped her has feuded with Afghanistan and we don't consider it the work of a group. We know who has done it and why, but I won't talk about it now," he said.

    Clementina Cantoni, 32, who works for CARE International, was dragged from her car by armed men in the Qala-e-Mosa district of central Kabul on Tuesday.

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    Corby dodges death, but 'life over'

    SCHAPELLE Corby whispered tearfully that her "life was over" after an Indonesian prosecutor dropped calls for the death sentence only to demand she spend the rest of her life behind bars in Bali.

    Despite taking a tranquiliser, Ms Corby, 27, seemed inconsolable as she screamed and sobbed in a holding cell immediately after the hearing.

    Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu asked the Denpasar District Court to find Ms Corby "officially and convincingly guilty" of attempting to smuggle 4.2kg of marijuana into Denpasar airport last year in her bodyboard bag.

    "The defendant's actions can ruin the image of Bali as a tourist destination," he told the panel of three judges who must ultimately determine Ms Corby's fate.

    "The defendant's actions can make Bali look like a drug haven and affect young people's lives."

    Mr Wiswantanu told the packed court he had not asked for the death penalty, partly because Ms Corby had been polite during her trial and had no prior drug record.

    But he maintained that his prosecution team had proven her wrongdoing despite her repeated pleas of innocence and claims that she had been the unwitting victim of a drug ring operating at Australian airports.

    He also asked the court to impose a 100 million rupiah ($13,500) fine.

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  • No firing squad for Schapelle Corby
  • Corby relieved at penalty submission
  • Judge warns Corby could still face death
  • Schapelle needs our help: friends
  • Bakir slams justice, breaks down

    Symbol of support means the world to Schapelle

    SCHAPELLE Corby's case would not be affected by the arrest of nine young Australians accused of drug smuggling, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last night.

    Mr Downer answered the question on people's lips when he said the arrests were unlikely to have a bearing on Corby's trial.

    Corby faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad if convicted of smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali last October.

    "I don't think one case should have any bearing on other cases," Mr Downer said.

    "In that context, certainly in terms of the facts of the case, the facts of every case are obviously going to be different.

    "There's no relationship between the alleged facts in this case and the alleged facts in the Schapelle Corby case."

    As the drama of the nine arrests unfolded yesterday, the 27-year-old Gold Coast beauty student was praying that "the strength of a nation" would help bring her home and she said yesterday that the overwhelming public support had helped keep her strong.

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  • Bali Heroin arrests no bearing on Corby case, Downer says
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    NZer spends 9 years in Bangkok jail, 26 to go

    While accused drug trafficker Australian Schapelle Corby awaits her fate at the hands of a Bali court, a Wainuiomata grandmother is facing her 10th year in a Bangkok jail with little hope of release soon.

    Phyllis Tarawhiti was sentenced to death after trying to leave Thailand with $4 million worth of heroin strapped to her body in 1996. The sentence was reduced to 50 years after she pleaded guilty. After an appeal it was cut to 35 years.

    Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokesman Brad Tattersfield says there is new information but he cannot discuss it without her permission.

    Tarawhiti's father, Joe, said the case of Corby, 27, had brought back memories of his daughter's ordeal. Corby, a former beauty student from the Gold Coast who may also face a death sentence, has denied smuggling 4.1 kilograms of cannabis into Bali in October. Mr Tarawhiti visited his daughter at Bangkok's Lad Yao Women's Correction Centre this year. For the first time he took one of her daughters, who had not seen her mother since she left almost 10 years ago, aged 38.

    He said yesterday that early release was "probably just a dream". However, an Australian woman had been freed from the jail after 10 years so the approaching anniversary had brought some hope.

    It had been good to see his daughter – whose actions 10 years ago had been "crazy and stupid" – and she seemed as well as could be expected. "She's got to try to be happy, there's not much she can do about it."

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    New clue may save Schapelle

    A NOTE by a security official who died mysteriously after alleging drug-running at Sydney Airport has been delivered to lawyers for accused marijuana smuggler Schapelle Corby. They claim the note is evidence supporting Corby's plea that she is an innocent victim of criminal networks using airports for drug trafficking.

    Its author, former Australian Protective Services officer Gary Lee-Rogers, was found dead in his Queanbeyan flat in October, 2002.

    An autopsy was unable to ascertain the cause of death, but Mr Lee-Rogers' family and whistle-blowers believe he was murdered after allegedly uncovering corruption in the APS's operations at the airport.

    Lawyers for Gold Coast beautician Schapelle Corby told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday they intended to use this latest information in final submissions to the Indonesian court where Corby is facing a possible death sentence.

    Her legal team has received hundreds of letters and e-mails alleging interference with luggage at airports since the claims were raised by Victorian prisoner John Ford.

    A coronial finding into his death is due to be handed down at Queanbeyan on Wednesday.

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  • Prosecutors to seek life in jail
  • Corby 'won't be given death penalty'
  • Letter hints at AFP cover-up

    One man's fight to save the children

    MALABON, PHILIPPINES - A 13-year-old boy crawls out of a curtained, wooden box attached to the wall of a crowded prison cell. Inside the box, an older man reclines, staring out.

    In these concrete cells, only the bed-sized boxes along the walls afford privacy. Other inmates sit, shoulder to shoulder, nearby on the floor.

    Sometimes, the boxes are used for sex. And when minors and adult criminals occupy the same cells, the opportunities are rampant.

    "God knows what was going on in that box just now," the Rev. Shay Cullen says as he walks the hallways of Malabon Jail on the outskirts of Manila.

    Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Irish-born Cullen is on a mission to save youngsters jailed with adults from both abuse and the flood-prone, oppressive cells.

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    Statement about an Imprisoned MP of Burma

    According to his lawyer, U Kyaw Khin, the elected representative (MP) of Shan State capital Taunngyi, was sentenced, a second time, to 14 years imprisonment by a local district court on April 8, 2005. Please see appendix

    He was given a long term imprisonment because he was accused, by the authorities, of distributing a leaflet describing the list of awards won by Burma's democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - who is still under house arrest - and photocopying them without permission.

    His second arrest occurs only one month and 22 days after his previous release on January 3, 2005; he had been in prison since 1996.

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    Andrew Mallard a Brit imprisoned in Australia

    Andrew Mallard, a 41 year old British citizen, has been in prison in Australia on a conviction for murder for more than eight years now. He was convicted on no evidence other than alleged unsigned confessions and a videotaped 20 minute interview. The transcripts of the verbal interviews were accepted as evidence by the trial judge, even though at the time of the trial a bill was already before the Western Australian Parliament rendering such unrecorded evidence inadmissible.

    Click Below to read more about Andrew and his case, and how you can help him.

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    LAOS –Absence of the Economic and Social Rights denounced at the UN

    At the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Vanida S. THEPHSOUVANH, president of the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) and member of the General Council of the Transnational Radical Party, on behalf of which she spoke on Wednesday afternoon, denounced the situation of health service and education in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) as being "at the very limit of what is acceptable", pointing more particularly at the situation of the 80% portion of the population living in rural zones, in spite of the hundreds of million euros of aids received from the international community.

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    Red Cross demands probe into Iraqi prison riot

    CAMP BUCCA: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) demanded on Tuesday an investigation into a riot at the US-run Camp Bucca prison camp in southern Iraq.

    "We are asking the US army to investigate the cause of the riot which happened at the detention centre," Camp Bucca, Rana Sidani, spokeswoman for the ICRC, told AFP. The US military announced early on Tuesday that 12 Iraqi prisoners and four US prison guards were wounded when inmates rioted at Camp Bucca on Friday, torching tents and hurling rocks in Iraq’s largest US-run detention centre. The riot at the desert camp in southern Iraq, where more than 6,000 prisoners are held, was first reported by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr’s movement and confirmed by the ICRC.

    The US military had said initially it was unaware of the violence and only came forward with details after the ICRC revelations.

    The violence erupted when inmates "protested the transfer of unruly detainees to another compound," the military said.

    "During the disturbance, the detainees chanted, threw rocks and set several of their tents on fire. The disturbance was brought under control with only minor injuries to four guards and 12 detainees."

    The ICRC spokeswoman said at least 14 detainees were lightly wounded and possibly more when US soldiers fired rubber bullets to end the riot, which happened as an ICRC delegation visited the camp.

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    Newmont's Indonesian problem

    "When I first came to Indonesia, if anybody would have said that I'd be locked up in an Indonesian jail I would have said they're crazy, it couldn't happen. We're good people, it couldn't happen. But it did happen."

    Ali Moore has an extraordinary story about how Indonesian authorities jailed five Newmont Mining executives, including an Australian, over allegations of pollution at a gold mine in the north east of the country. The five have been released, but months later are still banned from leaving the country, despite no charges being laid.

    It's a story of power, bureaucracy and intimidation, with the executives' plight becoming a litmus test for Indonesia's troubled investment climate.

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    5 Japanese have been wrongly imprisoned in Australia for drug charges

    You're on your way to a country where your language is not spoken. Your luggage is missing--but later found--looted and torn. Your tour guide kindly replaces the torn luggage and you are off to the next airport--only to be arrested, tried and convicted for smuggling heroin in your replacement luggage! Yes, if caught in Malaysia or Singapore, you would most likely be dead, even if you are really innocent.

    But even if your life gets to be spared in a country like Australia, would you want to spend 10 to 15 years in prison for something that you did not do, especially when you don't even speak the language and when your lawyers don't even make enough effort to communicate with you because of the language barriers?

    That is what happened to 5 Japanese who have been wrongly imprisoned in Australia for drug charges for 10 to 13 years now.

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    Aussies jailed in Laos accuse lawyer of raiding bank account

    AN Australian couple jailed in Laos for sapphire smuggling have accused the lawyer who secured their freedom of withdrawing money from their company account without consent.

    Kerry and Kay Danes, who were arrested in December 2000, allege Sydney lawyer Ted Tzovaras withdrew $233,000 during the 11 months they were held in Vientiane, according to a complaint filed with the Law Society of NSW in March last year.

    In response, documents provided by Mr Tzovaras show he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars as consultants' fees to mostly unnamed people in Laos.

    Although not prepared to discuss the consultancy fees, Mr Tzovaras denied they were bribes. The documents show that $223,000 was taken from Mrs Danes's Thailand-based company, Pacific Security Services, between February and June 2001 and deposited into the trust fund Mr Tzovaras established for the case. About $120,000 of it was reimbursed later after payments from JS Management Ltd to Mr Tzovaras, according to the trust's ledger.

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    Australian drug offender could be home by weekend

    A Brisbane man convicted of trying to smuggle medical drugs from Bali to Darwin could be back in Australia by the end of this week after an Indonesian court today sentenced him to six months' jail.

    He has already served that amount of time at Bali's notorious Kerobokan prison.

    Christopher Currall, 37, was arrested last September and accused of trying to send 54,645 tablets of ephedrine and a commercial quantity of it in powder form.

    The stash was found hidden inside water bottles placed in a large flower pot.

    Ephedrine is used in cold tablets but it is also the main ingredient of methamphetamine, also known as speed.

    Indonesian police caught him at a cargo company's office in Kuta trying to send the parcel back to Raymond Larry Thomsen, whom Currall said was a business associate.

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    Police deal may save drug trafficker from death penalty

    A 24-year-old Melbourne man on death row for drug trafficking in Singapore may be thrown a lifeline.

    It has been revealed Nguyen Tuong Van has been providing the Australian Federal Police with information over an Australian-based international drugs syndicate.

    His lawyers are hoping his assistance will improve his appeal for clemency, as Singapore's constitution states a pardon is possible if a co-accused gives evidence which leads to the conviction or arrest of a principal offender.

    Nguyen's lawyer Lex Lasry has told the ABC'S AM program there is a glimmer of hope.

    "It's important because the Singapore constitution itself recognises that people who assist authorities with this kind of information are deserving of particular treatments and it's significant that he's supported as he is by the Australian Federal Police," he said.

    The Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, has appealed to Pope John Paul II to help Nguyen.

  • Click Here for Complete Story
  • Pell asks Pope to save trafficker

    Only prison ship in UK to close

    The UK's only prison ship is to close, the Home Office has announced.
    HMP Weare, docked in Portland Harbour in Dorset, will be shut by the end of the year as the Prison Service says necessary renovations are too costly.

    The government purchased it in 1997 as a temporary overcrowding measure and intended to close it in 2000.

    Weare, originally a troop ship in the Falklands war and then a floating jail in the US, had been heavily criticised in prison service reports.

    The vessel's seaworthiness certificate is due for renewal next year and "substantial investment" would be necessary to keep the ship operational, a Prison Service spokeswoman said. Last year Anne Owers, the chief inspector of Prisons, criticised conditions on the Weare and said it should be closed down unless a huge amount of money was spent on refurbishment.

    Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, welcomed the decision to close the ship and said: "The Weare is a relic of a bygone age.

    "It should be emptied, towed out to sea and sunk."

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    After Prison Horror, Dominican Republic Plans a Study

    IGÜEY, Dominican Republic, March 8 - Zacaria Martínez is not sure how he survived the fire that swept through his prison cell, packed almost to the roof with inmates, killing nearly everyone inside. The only explanation he has is that it was "at the hands of God."

    Inside the overcrowded prison here early Monday, a battle broke out in a cell known as Vietnam, the authorities said. Shots were fired and punches flew. Mattresses, machetes and other objects sailed through the air before a burst of flame came, then torrents of black, choking smoke.

    "I cannot explain or describe the cries I heard of people burning to death," Mr. Martínez, one of 19 from the cell who survived, said Tuesday as he stood among scores of other prisoners packed into another cell. It was just as crowded as the one where the inferno took the lives of 136 prisoners.

    Nearby, with the smell of smoke still heavy in the air, several workers wearing masks shoveled debris from the charred cell into sacks.

    At a hospital a mile away, relatives and friends of the victims wept over bloodstained blue coffins and the blackened remains of their loved ones. Some of the victims still lay on a dirt field under a white tent, their faces frozen in agony.

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    State Dept.: Laos' Human Rights Record Remained Poor.

    The US State Department says the Lao government’s human rights record remained poor in 2004, and it continued to commit serious abuses. The government continued to pursue remnant bands of insurgents, resulting in an unknown number of civilian and military casualties. Citizens did not have the right to change their government.

    Laos' Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government severely restricted political speech and writing in practice. All domestic print and electronic media are state-owned and controlled. Local news in all media reflect government policy.

    Lao authorities continued to restrict freedom of religion, arresting and detained approximately 30 Christians, compared with approximately 50 arrested in the previous year.

    The Lao government has rejected the US accusations of human rights violations in Laos and its crackdown on religious freedom. In a statement quoted by the Vietnam News Agency, the Lao Foreign Ministry's spokesman says the State Department report surprised the Lao people because Laos and the US have seen new steps in beefing up multi-faceted ties in recent years.

  • Click Here for Complete Report

    'FOSADA' -Friends/Family of South African Detainees Abroad

    Foreign Prisoner Support Services would like to introduce an organization that has been working very hard to promote a support network for South Africans detained in prisons all over the world. The group is called 'FOSADA' -Friends/Family of South African Detainees Abroad.

    Many South Africans are being detained in appalling conditions and forgotten by their government and community members. FOSADA is working diligently to beseech the South African government to sign Prisoner Transfer or exchange Treaties with countries where South African detainees have no rights, are handed long or life-time sentences and are treated inhumanely. FOSADA also seek to eliminate the factors which have caused these South African citizens to find themselves in these situations - the destitute and desperate SA citizens being preyed upon by non-SA citizens.

    Please follow the links to read more about how you can help support South Africans detained in prisons all over the world.

  • http://www.fosada.za.org
  • Click Here for Member Profile

    Hanoi grants amnesty to political prisoners

    Hanoi, 31 January - Recently the Vietnamese Government freed several prisoners of conscience and political dissidents who were detained in prison, arbitrarily, for a number of years.

    Among the released under an Amnesty were; Buddhist Monk Thich Thien Minh, sentenced twice for his support to the Buddhist Unified Church of Vietnam,

    Dr. Que Nguyen, founder of the Nonviolent Movement for Democracy in Vietnam who had been detained under house arrest for decades, Catholic Priest Nguyen Van Ly, incarcerated for having submitted a testimony to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Nguyen Dinh Huy, founder of the Movement to United the People and promote Democracy.

    Foreign Prisoner Support Service congratulate the Vietnamese Government in taking this very important step to address the detention of political prisoners. We urge the Government to continue to develop its aid to democratic reforms.

  • Click Here for Archive of Story

    Laos hands over American servicemen’s remains to US

    Vientiane (VNA) - Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Phongsavath Boupha handed over some sets of remains of American servicemen who were killed during the war in Laos to US Ambassador to Laos Patricia M. Haslach at the airport of southern Savannakhet province on Feb. 15.

    The remains were found during the recent search in Savannakhet, Saravane, Vientiane and Xiangkhouang provinces.

    The hand-over once again reflected Laos’s humanitarian policy toward the families of US servicemen who were killed or listed as missing in action during the war in Laos and was a response to the US government’s proposal.

    Since 1985, Laos has returned 192 sets of remains to the US.--Enditem

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    Rioting overtakes Argentine prison

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Hundreds of security forces surrounded an Argentine prison Friday in a tense standoff with 2,000 inmates who overpowered guards, taking about two dozen of them hostage, including the warden. At least eight people were killed.

    The uprising at the San Martin maximum-security penitentiary in the province of Cordoba in central Argentina began Thursday during visiting hours and spread rapidly through several pavilions of the drab compound.

    The prisoners took about 25 hostages, including guards and the warden. The dead included at least five inmates, two guards and one police officer, authorities said.

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    Judge lashes out at South Africa's prison crisis

    Were the SPCA to cram as many animals into a cage as inmates are packed into a prison cell, it would be prosecuted for animal cruelty, Pretoria High Court judge Eberhardt Bertelsmann said on Friday.

    "The crisis in our prisons has huge Constitutional implications for the whole criminal justice system, and urgent steps need to be taken to address our entire sentencing and prison regimes," he said.

    Bertelsmann was delivering judgement in an application by politician Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and broker Addy Moolman for leave to appeal against dozens of fraud convictions.

    He said South African prisons, built to accommodate 113 825 inmates, housed a total of 186 546 by last September -- overcrowding of more than 63%.

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    Thailand's Hilltribe Prisoners

    Sakhon Kirikamsukh died at 1 a.m. on 13th January 2005 at Youth Central Prison in Pathumthani just north of Bangkok. He was a 29-year-old Akha man from Doi Chang, Chiangrai Province serving a life sentence for drugs.

    Together with many other prisoners Sakhon had been transferred from Bangkwang Central Prison, block 1, a few months previously. Conditions at the new facility are reported to be even worse than at notorious Bangkwang.

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    NRI sentenced to death in Indonesia

    JAKARTA: An Indonesian court has sentenced two foreigners, a Brazilian and an Indian, to death for drug trafficking, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

    The two foreigners were sentenced by the same panel of judges in two separate trials at the state district court in Tanggerang, Banten province, on Monday, the Kompas newspaper said.

    Rodrigo Gularte, 32, from Sao Paulo in Brazil, was found guilty trying to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine in July 2004, presiding judge Suprapto said. Gurdip Singh, 38, an Indian national also known as Dishal, was found guilty of trying to act as a courrier in smuggling 300 grams of heroin into the country in August 2004, the judge said.

    Gularte demanded time to decide whether to appeal while Singh immediately said he would appeal. The prosecutors had recommended the death sentence for Gularte and a 20-year jail sentence for Singh.

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    Thai prison to broadcast death row videos

    Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A Bangkok, Thailand, prison has announced plans to broadcast live video of death row prisoners' final moments over the Internet, the BBC reported Monday. Rights group Amnesty International has said the plan is an infringement of human rights. The group has called on Thai authorities to the plan.

    A spokesman for Bangkwang prison said the videos will highlight the risks of drug dealing, a capital offense, and other crimes. Nearly 1,000 of Thailand's 6,000 prisoners are on death row.

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    Aussie woman held in immigration lock-up

    A mentally-ill Australian woman found by Aborigines in a remote Cape York township spent 10 months in immigration detention after a major identification bungle by authorities.

    The immigration department confirmed Cornelia Rau, 39, who was only speaking German, was placed in detention last April when Queensland police could not identify her.

    The former Qantas flight attendant, who was reported missing last August after leaving Sydney's Manly hospital on March 17 last year, was free and being treated at Adelaide's Glenside psychiatric hospital. Efforts were being made to reunite her with her family.

    Refugee advocates said she had spent at least the past two months in isolation at the Baxter detention centre, in South Australia's far north, without access to medical treatment.

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    PM urges clemency for death row man

    Prime Minister John Howard said today he would ask for clemency for Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van who is facing the death penalty in Singapore for heroin trafficking.

    Mr Howard said he would raise the Australian's case with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when they met later today.

    Last October, Nguyen, 24, of Mulgrave in Melbourne's south-east, lost an appeal against his conviction and mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking.

    "There are compassionate circumstances in that particular case and I'll be putting those compassionate circumstances to the prime minister, yes," Mr Howard told reporters in Singapore.

    He said Nguyen cooperated with authorities and was trying to raise money to help a family member.

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  • Lee vows to weigh plea for clemency

    Viet Nam: Freedom for elderly prisoners of conscience

    Amnesty International warmly welcomes reports that several prisoners of conscience will be released in the coming days. Those due to be released include Dr Nguyen Dan Que, Nguyen Dinh Huy, Thich Thien Minh and Father Nguyen Van Ly. They are being released as part of a general amnesty for over 8,000 prisoners to mark Tet, the Lunar New Year.

    "These four human rights advocates have been incarcerated for a total of 88 years since the late 1970s," said Natalie Hill, Deputy Asia Director at Amnesty International. "Given the harsh conditions in Vietnamese prisons it is remarkable that they are still alive."

    Amnesty International has been campaigning for these prisoners of conscience for many years and some of the credit for their release must go to the thousands of Amnesty International volunteers worldwide. From Thailand to Portugal, members have held vigils and written to the Vietnamese authorities and their own governments to ensure that these prisoners have not been forgotten.

    "The Vietnamese authorities have at long last realised that locking up elderly men for decades, for doing nothing more than peacefully criticising government policy, is both a tragedy for those concerned and a stain on Viet Nam’s reputation," said Natalie Hill.

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    Hicks has rights, rules US judge

    A US court decision that declared the Guantanamo Bay military commissions unconstitutional, and said the prisoners had rights under the US constitution to challenge their detention, has intensified calls for the Australian Government to demand David Hicks get a fair trial or be brought home.

    The decision, by Judge Joyce Hens Green of the Federal District Court in Washington, came days after the other Australian being held at Guantanamo Bay, Mamdouh Habib, was released by the US without charge and returned to Australia.

    Lawyers said the latest US court decision, which followed an earlier Supreme Court ruling that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were not beyond the reach of the US judicial system, indicated the military commission process was unravelling.

    The Law Council of Australia's president, John North, said the decision added "further weight to arguments that the US approach at Guantanamo Bay does not afford detainees fundamental and basic legal rights".

    "Mr Hicks should be given a fair trial, and this can only occur if he is removed from the military commission process and placed either before a court martial or the US civilian criminal justice system. If this is not possible, then he should be returned to Australia," he said.

  • Click Here for Complete Story
  • US ruling may offer hope for David Hicks
  • Hicks family welcomes US court judgement

    Bakhtiaris "holed up" in Bangkok, suspected in Thai jail

    "According to Kay Danes from the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, who with her husband Kerry was falsely imprisoned in a Laos jail in 2001 for suspected diamond smuggling, the fact that the Bakhtiari family is now stuck in Thailand as immigration detainees is disturbing news."

    "The Bakhtiari family, deported last week to Pakistan with a charter flight from National Jet Systems, is stuck in Thailand. Reporters from South Australian newspaper The Advertiser have confirmed this in a news report, and Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has acknowledged that the charter flight stranded three days ago on Bangkok airport as a result of disruptions to flights in that region because of the tsunami."

    "This adds to the torture and woes heaped on the family, who no doubt have been thrown indiscriminately into a stinking prison cell with the entire family, together with criminals," Project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit commented.

    "We know that the Australian government doesn't give a damn about its human rights record and its continuing breaches of international conventions, but the Bakhtiari family should be brought back immediately. Courtesy Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone we now have babies and children in a jail in Thailand."

    "This is not the first time that the immigration department seriously bungles a deportation. Last year the Kadem family were also thrown into a Bangkok prison when their deportation did not go as planned. We do not expect any action from the foreign affairs Minister Alexander Downer, who is already on the record of joining Amanda's vilification chorus of the Bakhtiari family, nevertheless, we remind the Foreign Minister of his immediate responsibilities in this affair, which seems to develop into yet another forced deportation bungle."

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    Lao Government releases two prisoners of conscience after 14 years

    Foreign Prisoner Support Services actively participates in the promotion of world-wide campaigns for the preservation of human rights, as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    We would like to acknowledge the Lao Government's recent decision to release two former prisoners of conscience, Feng Sakchittaphong and Latsami Khamphoui. The pair were released from prison in October this year having served a 14-year sentence for charges including "making preparations for rebellion" and "propaganda against the Lao People's Democratic Republic".

  • Click here for more information
  • Laos: Two prisoners of conscience freed after 14 years

    Australian arrested in Indonesia over drug charges

    An Australian man has been arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing a small quantity of heroin.

    He is the fifth Australian detained in connection with drug offences in the past three months.

    Massimo Mancini, 45, who had moved from Melbourne to work training bar staff at a club in Bali's Legian area, was arrested at home.

  • Click here for more information
  • Australian gets consular help in Bali

    Prison drug use, unprotected sex fueling AIDS epidemic in Asia

    Unprotected sex and rampant drug use in Asia's overcrowded and run-down prisons are fueling the AIDS epidemic in the region , and governments have been slow to recognize the threat, activists say.

    Prisons "are HIV factories," said Elizabeth Pisani of Family Health International, an AIDS prevention group in Jakarta. "We are introducing a population that we know to be infected with the virus into an environment where people shoot up drugs and have anal sex."

    When HIV-positive prisoners are released, there is a high likelihood they will spread the infection, she said.

    Rights activists have long called for better conditions in Asian jails, where they allege inmates are routinely beaten, and deadly diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid go unchecked. Medical care in many prisons is substandard or nonexistent and widespread corruption means just about anything _ from drugs to sex _ can be bought. Few governments in Asia's developing economies keep officials figures on HIV infections among inmates. But private groups say they are rising at an alarming rate.

    In Indonesia, prisons that had reported almost no HIV cases among inmates in 1999 had almost 25 percent of their populations infected in 2003, the National AIDS Commission said.

    In Thailand, one quarter of inmates at Klong Prem Central Prison on the outskirts of Bangkok have tested positive for HIV, activists say. AIDS disease has also become a leading killer in Cambodian jails.

    Rising HIV rates in Asian prisons reflect a global trend that has also hit Africa, South America and Russia, the United Nations says. South African prisons have seen death rates surge 500 percent in recent years, largely because of AIDS, while Russia is seeing its HIV rates in prison rise by 15 percent to 20 percent each year. "It probably is much worse than what we expect because prisons represent the lowest common denominator of society," said Anindya Chatterjee, a senior adviser with UNAIDS in Geneva. "These inmates are the underclass and most vulnerable to HIV. We've seen this in Russia. We've seen this in China and we'll definitely see it in Indonesia."

    Indonesian inmates describe a wild atmosphere in many jails, with cells are used as shooting galleries for heroin addicts and guards paid off to allow drugs inside. Sex is also widespread, with transvestites selling themselves for as little as a US$1 and the poorest and weakest inmates raped by gang members, inmates said. "We just shot up in our cell and one needle usually went for about 100 inmates," said Henri Fonda, a former inmate who says he's HIV positive and has lost eight friends to the virus.

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    In His Own Words by Patrick Laughlin

    British Citizen Patrick Laughlin, another victim of gross injustice in Japan was released from the notorious Osaka jail on September 4th 2003.

    Pat was released on parole but actually served 3 yrs, 10 months and 5 days of a 4 years sentance! He has written about his experiences on the website set up for him. Please read what he has to say about his treatment in Japanese prison, the inaction of the British authorities and how he was forced into slave labour for Japanese conglomerates:-

    "The treatment afforded to me in the detention centres was disgraceful. In Okazaki conditions were appalling and I was refused essential medical treatment and rightful communication with the British authorities. I didn't things could get any worse but sadly I was very mistaken.
    FPSS would like to extend a warm welcome home to Patrick who is now helping others through his own personal experiences.

  • Click Here for full story ...

    Yachtie tells of jail ordeal

    CHRISTOPHER Packer, the Australian sailor being held on weapons charges in a Bali jail, has now offered to assist police in finding a sixth gun that may be on his impounded boat.

    In his first lengthy interview from behind bars, Mr Packer, a well-known yachtsman, yesterday told of the cockroaches infesting his tiny cell and reiterated his innocence of anything other than failing to declare the guns on his boat. He also vented his anger on a former passenger who he claimed had told police he was a gun and drug runner.

    "I have never sold a gun in my life. I have never sold any drugs, I don't understand what they are on about. I can prove that I have got every gun that I have ever had . . . never have I sold a gun," Mr Packer said.

    The 52-year-old denied any knowledge of a small amount of green leaf material found in a plastic bag in a drawer of the boat's saloon and which is being tested to see if it is marijuana.

    Mr Packer said he had had enough of South-East Asia and when he was released from jail and the case was over, he would not return to the region. "I would much rather stay in First World countries where I am appreciated as a nice person."

    Police who raided his 60m restored trading boat called the Lissa on Friday night found five weapons and more than 2000 bullets which had not been declared to Indonesian authorities upon entering territorial waters.

    However, they had failed to find a sixth gun, believed to be a revolver, for which there was ammunition.

    Yesterday, Mr Packer did not want to comment on the gun but his lawyer, M.H. Rifan, said his client was not sure where it was located on the boat but was prepared to help police to search further and was going to provide a further statement to police.

  • Click Here for full story ...
  • Thrown in jail `for failing to tick a box'
  • 'Pull my yacht apart again and I will sue'

    Australian to face firing squad in Vietnam

    An Australian man of Vietnamese origin will face the firing squad in Vietnam for charges of drug trafficking, state media has reported.

    Tran Van Thanh, 39, was handed the death sentence by the Ho Chi Minh City's People's Court on Friday, the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper said. Two of Thanh's accomplices, Tran Van Viet and Pham Martin, also Australians of Vietnamese origin, received life imprisonment.

    Two Vietnamese nationals, Pham Dai Nhon, 43, and Le Thi Loan, 28, received 16 and 20 years in prison respectively.

    The five were arrested in June last year. Police are still hunting for two other overseas Vietnamese who were implicated in the case.

    Between February and June 2003, the seven-member gang, of whom two are women, trafficked heroin from Vietnam to Australia, the paper said.

    Vietnam has some of the toughest drug laws in the world.

  • Click Here for full story ...
  • Clemency appeal for Aussie Viet ...
  • Australian Government to act in firing-sqad decree ...

    Australian Woman writes of her life in an Indonesian Jail

    Notes from a 'five star' prison cell - Life in an Acehnese jail by Lesley McCulloch

    On 10 September 2002, Lesley McCulloch was arrested in Aceh with her friend Joy Lee Sadler and their Indonesian translator,Fitrah, and charged with visa violations, which she denied. She was held in jail for over two months before her trial, which concluded when she was sentenced to five months jail on 30 December, then released on 9 February. McCulloch's case is significant because it is unusual for foreigners accused of visa violations to be detained for such a long period, rather than simply deported. It is widely believed that the Indonesian military meant to make an example of McCulloch, an academic who has been critical of the TNI'srole in Aceh. In the following account, which she wrote following the departure of her cell mates, she details prison life.

  • Click Here for full story ...

    US Identifies Airmen Killed in Laos in Vietnam War

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six U.S. airmen killed when their plane went down in Laos in 1966 in the Vietnam War have been identified with genetic tests and other methods, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

    They were crew members aboard an AC-47 "Spooky" gunship that was flying a nighttime reconnaissance mission over southern Laos when it went down in flames on June 23, 1966, in a heavily wooded area in Khannouan Province, the Pentagon said.

    The six Air Force airmen will be buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Friday with full military honors, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon's POW/MIA office.

  • Click Here for full story ...

    The New Paedophiles - Special Report

    Australia is still reeling in horror as more details emerge of Operation Auxin, Australia's first major crackdown on internet child pornography.

    The Australian Federal Police ave confirmed that teachers, a child-care centre owner, a nurse, pastor, a counsellor, executives and even police officers have been involved in internet-based crimes against our children. At the time of going to press, 2177 charges had been laid and 214 arrests or summonses were made.

    Dismissing the usual stereotype of 'dirty old men', commander of the NSW Child Protection and Sex Crime squad Superintendent Kim McKay described many of those charged is: 'Mr Joe Average. He is married with children and a good job.'

    Most of the alleged offenders were, until now, respected members of the community. Many were known to their victims and even loved by them.

    And that's exactly why parents are panicking. We've told our kids about stranger danger, but how do we tell them they need to be wary of the people we trust to take care of them?

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    Asia ; Singapore, a ‘Disneyland with the death penalty’

    Asia News, Singapore: The American science fiction writer, Mr William Gibson once described Singapore as ‘Disneyland with the death penalty’. Recent developments underscore the point.

    Last week a 24-year-old Australian man of Vietnamese origin lost an appeal to escape the gallows, rights group Amnesty International challenged the city-state to disclose its execution rate, and the high court will soon decide whether to hang 3 people caught in a high-society drug ring in Singapore.

    "The government is really not softening up when it comes to drug crimes or on executions," said Mr Chua Beng Huat, a sociology professor at National University of Singapore who has written several books on Singapore’s politics.

    Though Singapore is loosening social controls -easing censorship rules, allowing greater freedom of speech and championing a more open society - it is maintaining a hard line on crime and executions.

    Amnesty, which seeks a worldwide ban on state executions, says Singapore’s death row is shrouded in secrecy. In the country itself, there is little public debate about the issue and even less information on how the process is carried out.

    In the pre-dawn hours of any Friday, someone could be on their way to the gallows at Changi prison. No one knows for sure.

    Amnesty says about 400 people have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, most for drug trafficking. This adds up to possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to the island’s 4.2 million population.

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    Thai State Terrorism

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra praised Thai state security forces after they caused the deaths of 84 protesters who had gathered at a police station in southern Thailand on Monday 25th October. About 2,000 protesters called for the release of 6 Muslim men who had been arrested by Thai police. Police opened fire on the crowd, killing 6 according to some reports. About 1,300 were arrested, loaded into trucks and transported to an army camp. While in custody 78 died, mostly from suffocation.

    Thaksin and other officials have callously commented that the deaths were partly due to the weakness of Muslim protesters during the Ramadan fasting month, which began on 15th October.

    Since January 2004 over 400 Muslims have been killed in southern Thailand by state security forces. This latest incident is the second most fatal after an incident in April when over 100 were killed by state security forces.

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    Thailand turns to prisoners to find tsunami dead

    BANGKOK, - Thailand, facing its worst natural disaster in living memory, has drafted short-term prisoners to help retrieve the thousands of bodies strewn along its Andaman Sea beaches by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

    About 50 men jailed for petty crimes and serving less than two years have volunteered for the gruesome task of finding bodies decomposing rapidly in the tropical heat, a senior corrections department official said on Saturday..

    "For each day they search for corpses, their terms will be reduced by two days, " Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana told reporters.

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  • Tsunami sets prisoners free

    Two prisoners shot dead as the tsunami hit Sri Lanka

    In the midst of the many tragic stories in Sri Lanka on December 26, the killing of two prisoners at Galle jail stands out as a demonstration of the ruthlessness of the state apparatus towards ordinary people.

    Around 800 prisoners—some convicted, others on remand—were packed into the jail buildings, located in the middle of the southern city. About 30 guards and officers were on duty. When the first wave hit at around 9.10 a.m., the situation became chaotic.

    The female ward was inundated and water rose to over a metre. Prisoners were also hearing reports on the radio of tsunami waves lashing coastal areas and taking hundreds of lives. Fearful of further waves and concerned about the fate of their families, the prisoners demanded they be released. Most of the inmates were from areas around Galle.

    "Our wives and children could be affected. We want to go home. We want to protect them," some yelled out. Like people throughout the country, they were desperate for news of their loved ones. Many of the southern towns, including Galle itself, were devastated by the tsunami with thousands of lives lost. Even though the scale of the destruction was not apparent at the time, the initial reports were nevertheless alarming.

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  • Prisoners Flee After Tsunami Hits Indonesia Jail

    Newly released FBI documents reveal harsh treatment at Guantanamo

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - A new batch of internal FBI documents released took renewed aim at hard interrogation practices at a US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prompting the military to order an investigation into FBI allegations of prisoner abuse there.

    The American Civil Liberties Union released the latest documents on the eve of Senate confirmation hearings of President George W. Bush's choice for attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel who laid the legal foundation for aggressive interrogations of war-on-terror suspects.

    "Mr Gonzales bears much of the responsibility for creating the legal framework and permissive atmosphere that led to the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero in releasing the documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act suit.

    The documents, many of which were heavily redacted, included an account of an interrogation in late 2002 in which an FBI special agent observed a female interrogator caress a shackled prisoner, whisper in his ear and then cause him to grimace in pain.

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    Govt under fire after Australian found guilty on terrorism charges in Kazakhstan

    In October 2001, Noorpolat Abdulla, a 31-year-old Australian citizen, was convicted of preparing a terrorist attack in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia. Denied consular representation, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a closed court.

    Since his conviction, his family, which maintains the father of two is innocent, have lobbied quietly for his release. Now, they've gone public with their disquiet at the Australian Government's handling of the case. They claim the Government did not do enough to ensure an open and fair hearing and say its left the former Adelaide resident to rot in a prison camp straight out of Stalin's gulag.

  • Click here for more information
  • Australian Embassy - Consular Access Report
  • This special report from Michael Vincent

    Hicks may face torture evidence: lawyer

    Evidence gathered through torture could be used against alleged terrorist David Hicks in his upcoming trial, his American military lawyer said.

    Major Michael Mori, the US Marine lawyer who will defend Adelaide-born Hicks in the military commission, said the presentation of evidence gained through torture highlighted the flaws of the judicial system to be used to try "war on terror" suspects.

    Earlier this week, a leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross claimed the American military had used psychological and physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on detainees.

    In a further development, the US government admitted in a Washington court for the first time that its military panels reviewing the detentions were allowed to use evidence gained by torture in deciding whether to keep detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

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    The son we lost - The Search for Daniel Morcombe

    EARLY in the morning, when the dew was still fresh on the grass and the mist was sweeping through the mountains, a small boy would slowly make his way across the paddock, edging forward on his hands and knees. Lying down quietly beside the sleeping horse, he would put his arms around him and whisper: "It's all right, mate, everything's all right, it's only me". The miniature horse scared easily, so the boy woke him the same way every morning, crawling across the paddock to soothe him with gentle words of comfort.

    That boy was Daniel Morcombe.

    There are many things about Daniel – like his deep love of animals – that the public doesn't know. How he had a great, big belly laugh that started deep down in his tummy before exploding in bubbles of pure joy; how he loved playing tricks on his dad; and how nothing, absolutely nothing, could make his eyes light up like a big plate of his mum's home-made lasagne.

    But there is a photo of Daniel that the public has come to know all too well. It's the one that appears in newspapers, on pizza boxes, on posters and milk cartons – the one that tells us that Daniel, with his mop of black hair, enormous grin and blue-green eyes, got up one morning, set off for the shops, and vanished into thin air.

    Daniel disappeared on the afternoon of December 7 last year, just before his 14th birthday, abducted from a bus stop near his Palmwoods home by one or two men thought to be driving a blue sedan.

    Next month it will be a year since Daniel was taken, a year that is etched in the sorrow on the faces of his parents Denise and Bruce, who have come to believe that their boy is gone for ever.

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  • Click Here for Our Daniel Morcombe Page

    400 Hmong Refugees Arrested in Thailand - Thai Man Accused of Profiteering

    On November 8, 2004 at 6:00 a.m. at Mu Ban Nam Qhao, Ta Boun Khea Noy, Amphur Kha Khao, Petchabon Province, Thailand, Thai authorities arrested 400 Hmong refugees who recently came to Thailand seeking political asylum. They were arrested by Thai authorities and Chia Ger Yang, a Hmong villager at Petchabon, and are reported to be detained at Amphur Pakchom, Loei province, awaiting to be repatriated to Laos. These Hmong refugees have not been granted their refugee status yet.

    The allegations of the arrest were that Mr. Chia Ger Yang, the Hmong villager at Petchabon, forced these 400 Hmong refugees to give him 70,000 baht. But they did not have that much money to give to him. He then reported them to authority and had the authorities arrest them. This allegation indicated that this issue is about people trafficking.

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    Australia PM supports clemency bid in Singapore

    CANBERRA, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard will support a bid for clemency by an Australian man sentenced to death by hanging in Singapore for smuggling heroin through the city- state's Changi airport.

    Nguyen Tuong Van, arrested at Changi airport in December 2002 while travelling from Cambodia to Melbourne, on Wednesday lost an appeal against a conviction for smuggling 400 grammes (14 ounces) of heroin and now relies on being granted clemency.

    "I will certainly support approaches to the Singaporean president for clemency and that process is already, I understand, under way," Howard told Australian radio on Friday.

    If the bid for clemency fails, Van will be the first Australian citizen executed in Singapore.

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  • Amnesty, Australia ask Singapore to spare life of drug smuggler
  • Long wait for condemned trafficker

    Briton charged in Singapore drugs probe

    A second Briton is facing drugs charges as police continue to investigate a drug ring in Singapore.

    Andrew Veale, 40, is the latest in a string of expatriates to be charged with consumption of a controlled substance after police smashed a cocaine ring that reportedly included company executives and members of Singapore's high society.

    Veale previously worked as a broker with British firm Credittrade, a newspaper in the country reported last week.

    Nigel Bruce Simmonds, 35, British editor of the Singapore Tatler allegedly purchased amphetamines from the ring and was charged with possession of narcotics on October 8.

    Ten others have been charged with drug abuse or possession.

    Singapore has some of the world's strictest - and most thoroughly enforced - drug laws, including a mandatory death penalty by hanging for anyone caught with more than 15 grams of heroin or more than 500 grams of marijuana.

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    Aussie to hang in Singapore


    Distraught ... tearful mother Kim Nguyen leaves court with the family lawyer yesterday / AP

    SINGAPORE'S highest court demonstrated yesterday its brutal intolerance of drug trafficking, dismissing the appeal of Australian Nguyen Tuong Van against his death penalty in a hearing lasting less than two minutes.

    Nguyen's fate now rests with Singapore's President, S.R. Natham, in an appeal for clemency his lawyers and the Australian Government will rush to prepare.

    If that process, which could take six months, fails, Nguyen will be led from his prison cell and hung by the neck early one Friday morning, becoming the first Australian to be executed in more than a decade and the first by the Singaporean Government.

    Nguyen, 24, who was convicted in March of trafficking 396g of heroin through Singapore's Changi airport, had been praying the three judges of the Court of Appeal would release him from death row, according to his mother, Kim.

    "He always prays and keeps hope like me," she said before the hearing.

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  • Downer wants clemency for condemned man
  • Australian loses Singapore death sentence appeal

    Thailand's Gulag For Hilltribes

    Many hilltribe men are amongst a substantial number of recent prisoner transfers out of horrendously overcrowded Bangkwang Central Prison just north of Bangkok.

    Thailand has opened a new facility, Youth Central Prison, to which many prisoners, including hilltribe men, are being transfered.

    It is located about 30 kilometers north of central Bangkok, and north of Don Muang International Airport.

    A recent report from there says: "Conditions are far different from Bangkwang. We cannot make ends meet at all. Everybody has to depend on their relatives to visit. There is much difficulty for those whose relatives cannot visit. Parcels are also prohibited."

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    Lao Photographer Describes Attack by Troops on Hmong Children

    WASHINGTON—The Lao Hmong refugee who documented an alleged massacre of five Hmong children by Lao troops has described in detail how the children were attacked and raped by Lao troops before he returned and photographed their mutilated bodies.

    In a lengthy interview with RFA’s Lao service, Va Cha Yang, a merchant who smuggled video footage of the children’s bodies out

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    Innocent inmates and their lives in prison ...

    Sunu Maya Rai was behind bars when she was barely two years old. She spent eight years of her life in Khotang Jail, and was the only child resident there. No, she did not commit any crime, not even an accidental offence. Her father was the convicted one. And by default, she too had to share his sentence.

    She remembers how her heavily shackled father, with chains dangling all around, had to carry her on his back to hospital when she fell sick.

    She recalls, “It was just me and my father and the ‘bhat’ he cooked for us”. Precious few were the occasions when she was allowed to go and play with the local children outside the jail. “Those times were the happiest.”

    After eight lonely years of sleeping on a piece of foam spread on the craggy prison floor in remote Khotang, it has now been four years at a cozy foster home in Kathmandu. Sunu Maya still has no idea what her father was sent to prison for.

    For ordinary children, the very word ‘jail’ sends chills down the spines. What must it be like to literally live inside one! Further investigations unleashed more surprising realities.

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    275 released from Abu Ghraib

    An Iraqi woman kisses her husband soon after his release from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq, September 15. Hundreds of prisoners were released from Abu Ghraib Wednesday. AP

    BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US military released 275 detainees Wednesday from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison centre as part of the first wave of prisoners released by a new Iraqi-US commission, the military said. "The release today was approximately 275, with 25 of those being juveniles," said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson.

    The detainees' cases were all reviewed by the new nine-member Combined Review and Release Board. It includes six Iraqi officials - two each from the justice, human rights and interior ministries - and three colonels from the US-led multinational division.

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    Cuban dissident solitary confinement conditions

    A combo shows two images of a replica of a solitary confinement prison cell, set up at the residence of top U.S. diplomat James Cason in Havana, September 8, 2004.

    Cason had the replica built based on details sent by jailed Cuba dissident physician Oscar Biscet to show the conditions political prisoners are held under.

    The Cuban government denies having political prisoners and mantains that dissidents are working on the payroll of it's arch enemy, the United States.

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    Afghan releases 363 Pakistani prisoners

    Pakistani prisoners wait for their release as Afghan police stand by the gate of prison in Kabul

    363 of Pakistanis were released from an Afghan prison Sunday — after being jailed for three years as prisoners of war, a step meant to amend strained relations between the two countries. The Pul-i-Charki prison just outside Kabul is one of the biggest prisons in the world, with a capacity of 20,000 prisoners.

    The 368 prisoners, captured during the oust of the Taliban, were being driven by bus 155 miles to the Pakistani town of Peshawar for screening by Pakistani authorities.

    "We are glad that their ordeal is finally over," said Pakistani embassy third secretary Zafar Ali Khan. "We have been trying to get access to them for a long time. We believe there has been no need to have kept them for so long in Afghan jails."

    The prisoners range in age from 22 to 60.

    "They could have done this much sooner," Pakistani Ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand said of the prisoner release by Afghanistan. "Still, I appreciate it, and the Afghan and Pakistani governments want to have good relations."

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    Corrupt guards cut Chinese prisoners' jail time

    An investigation by China's top judicial body has uncovered more than 13,961 prisoners who have had their jail terms illegally reduced in the past four months by corrupt prison officers.

    The Supreme People's Prosecutors' Office made the discovery during a study of the country's prison system, which also found another 3,875 prisoners were released on parole or received medical treatment while on bail.

    The SPP said 42 law enforcement officers have been found guilty of reducing prison terms.

    An investigation was launched based on suspicions guards were accepting bribes in exchange for shortening prisoner's sentences.

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    Australia's National Shame: Peter Qasim's 2191 stolen days

    Thursday 9th September 2004 will see a dismal anniversary marked across Australia, with the passing of six years in detention for a 30-year-old man from Indian Kashmir, Peter Qasim.

    Peter is admired by scores of detainees for the selfless assistance he's given them in their own battles with paperwork and bureaucracy, and valued by dozens of Australian friends for his extraordinary wit, intelligence and resilience. But nobody can face life imprisonment for no reason. As Peter once said, even Nelson Mandela in prison had the struggle for his nation's freedom to give him strength, but his own suffering serves no purpose for anyone. He is locked up, apparently forever, because of lost paperwork in India, and a file full of minor errors and misunderstandings in Australia.

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    Hicks tells father of personal hell

    David Hicks gave his father Terry a detailed account of 10 hours of absolute hell he endured after his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001, it was reported.

    Hicks also told his father during their brief emotional reunion in Cuba last week that he was sorry for all the trouble he had caused, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

    Terry Hicks said he was angry at Australian government claims that his son was not abused by his US captors, the paper reported.

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  • ALSO - Hicks tells of '10 hours of hell'
  • ALSO - Terrorist Suspect Hicks Was Abused in U.S. Custody
  • ALSO - Australian Al-Qaeda Suspect Hicks Faces U.S. Tribunal

    Absence of extradition treaty leaves Nepali prisoners in Thailand

    Seventy Nepalis prisoners are stuck in the Thai jails in the absence of an extradition treaty between Nepal and Thailand, a report said. Most Nepalese were imprisoned in Thailand on charges of drug trafficking, the report added.

    According to The Rising Nepal, the Thai government had back in 2000 handed a proposal to Nepal, asking it to sign an extradition treaty. However, Nepal is still engaged in arranging the necessary groundwork.

    We have been working for the transfer of the Nepalis held in the Thai jails. The legal formalities that need to be completed will take a long time,? the daily quoted minister of state for foreign affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat as saying.

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  • ALSO - Thailand Prisoner Amnesty Disappointment

    Zimbabwe court finds Mann guilty over coup arms deal, absolves others

    HARARE (AFP) - A court in Zimbabwe found the alleged British coup mastermind Simon Mann guilty of attempting to illegally buy arms to stage a putsch in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea but acquitted 66 other co- accused.

    Mann, wearing a khaki prison shirt and shorts, showed no emotion as he stood before Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe who read out the verdict at a makeshift court in the maximum security Chikurubi prison.

    "The action by the accused (Mann) amounts at the most to attempting to purchase firearms. The accused is found guilty," said Guvamombe. He said sentences would be handed down on September 10.

    Mann, a bespectacled former member of Britain's crack Special Air Service military unit was alleged to have been the mastermind behind the suspected plot to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

    He was arrested along with 69 other alleged mercenaries on March 7 when a plane stopped off in Harare to pick up weapons that the men claim were to be used to guard a diamond mine in Democratic Republic of Congo (news - web sites).

    The state has asked for a jail sentence of up to 10 years in prison for Mann, who is also linked to accused coup financier Mark Thatcher, the son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

    Guvamombe acquitted 66 other suspected soldiers of fortune Friday, although most of them -- 64 -- and three crew members are still facing sentencing on minor charges of breaching the country's immigration and aviation laws.

    Two other men described as weapons inspectors who were arrested along with Mann at the airport where they awaited the plane's arrival -- South Africans Harry Carlse and Jacobus Horne -- faced no charges and were to be released later in the day.

    As the judge declared the acquittal of the 66 men, applause broke out from the small group of family members who attended the hearing.

    There were tears and a flurry of excited calls on mobile phones outside the prison as relatives broke the news to family members back home in South Africa.

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    Netherlands and Thailand sign prisoner exchange treaty

    On Monday 23 August, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Bot and Thana Duangratana, the Thai ambassador to the Netherlands, signed a treaty on the exchange of individuals serving prison sentences. Dutch nationals sentenced in Thailand will now be able to serve the rest of their time in the Netherlands, and vice versa. The treaty only applies once an individual has been through the entire legal process.

    Now that the treaty has been signed, the Council of State will issue recommendations on it and it will be presented to both houses of parliament for tacit approval. The amount of time needed for this procedure will determine when the treaty enters into force. Article 11 of the treaty states that it will take effect when all the formalities relating to ratification have been completed.

    For more information about the signing ceremony, contact Bart Jochems, Information and Communication Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (tel. +31 70 348 6331). For information about the treaty, contact Martin Bruinsma, Information Department, Ministry of Justice (tel. +31 70 370 6266).

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    12,000 Thailand Inmates Set Free

    A Hong Kong woman who whipped up a media storm last year with a fabricated rape story was among 12,000 inmates released nationwide yesterday to mark Her Majesty the Queen's 72nd birthday.

    So Leong-ying was immediately deported following her release, said Kanchana Keskarn, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department.

    So, 30, was sentenced to one-and-a-half-years after telling police that she was raped by a tuk-tuk driver and three other men in June last year. She later admitted fabricating the story.

    Kanchana said So, who served 14 months, had behaved well behind bars and was among 25,000 inmates who deserved amnesty from Her Majesty.

    Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said 12,000 inmates from prisons around the country were released yesterday and 13,000 others would be gradually released over a 60-day period.

    Inmates released from Bangkok prisons were each given Bt200 by the Po Tek Tueng Foundation and another Bt200 from Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They also received a travel bag and toiletries.

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  • ALSO - Thailand pardons 25,000 prisoners in honour of queen's birthday

    Solomon Islands improves prison conditions

    Prison authorities in Solomon Islands say they are working to improve conditions under which inmates are being held.

    This follows a number of orders by the country's High Court in favour of four prisoner applicants.

    The prisoners had claimed their detention conditions did not meet minimum required standards, and were unlawful.

    The Acting Commissioner of Prisons, Francis Haisoma, says all the requirments laid down by the High Court are now being met.

    He says these included the amount of time availabe for exercise and the provision of certain foodstuffs.

    Earlier this week, prisoners at the country's main jail in the capital Honiara broke of out of their cells and took over part of the complex in a day-long protest.

    It required the intervention of local and international police before the situation was eventually brought under control.

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    Prison conditions slammed - Lawyer calls conditions a 'travesty of humanity'

    Conditions at Fox Hill Prison have been described as being a "travesty of humanity." Attorney Paul Moss Jr made the charge Wednesday at a press conference just across the street from the institution. Moss, who visited a relative in the prison daily for a month, said that conditions at the prison are "degrading for officer and inmate alike."

    "The animals at the Humane Society live under far better conditions than the inmates at Fox Hill Prison," he said. He claimed to have witnessed inmates carrying human waste from their prison cells in garbage bags and the same barrels used to cart out waste were also used to transport food to the inmates.

    Mr Moss, a corporate attorney, said his interacting with his relative and other prisoners has convinced him that conditions at HMP are "adverse to what is necessary for the rehabilitation of former inmates into the wider society."

    He feared that a prison that will unleash frustrated ex-convicts into the community perpetuate recidivism. Mr Moss claimed that prison officers are "very demoralised." Their jobs, he claimed, were "hazardous to their health."

    Mr Moss described the maximum security building as the "most archaic" building in The Bahamas with inadequate lighting and poor ventilation. He claimed lack of fire safety implementations such as fire exits and extinguishers.

    Mr Moss said he and other lawyers who visit the prison on a regular basis, are obligated to agitate for the amelioration of prison conditions. He blamed himself, lawyers, the media, the judiciary and each government, including the current administration, for "allowing fellow Bahamians to suffer." Asked if he planned to take his complaints directly to the minister in charge of HMP, Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia Pratt, Mr Moss said, "They have access to deeper parts of the prison and know it better than me."

    Mr Moss proposed, however, what he believed to be the first step towards alleviating problems such as overcrowding. He suggested that The Bahamas adopt electronic monitoring techniques in order to hold prisoners on remand in their homes or to simply condemn unfit prison buildings. He stated that it is not good enough for the government to claim that there is not enough money to affect change in the prison system. Millions of dollars, he claimed, has been wasted on other things.

    Omar Bradley Smith, deputy leader of the BDM, also present at the press conference, concurred with Mr Moss on improvements needed at HMP. Mr Smith said it was the "moral duty of Bahamians to stand up for these improvements."

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    A Look at Guantanamo Legal Proceedings

    Several legal proceedings are planned or under way for terror suspects held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since January 2002, the prison population has reached nearly 600 detainees from 40 nations.

    COMBATANT STATUS REVIEW TRIBUNALS: Started last Friday. Evaluates "enemy combatant" status of detainees, whether they should be freed. Classification affords detainees fewer legal protections than prisoner of war status.

    U.S. CIVILIAN COURTS: U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) ruled detainees have right to challenge detention in civilian courts. No cases filed yet. Unclear how the U.S. military would accommodate requests.

    ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS: If prisoners determined to be enemy combatants, their detentions reviewed annually to see if they still pose threat or have valuable intelligence.

    PRELIMINARY HEARINGS FOR MILITARY COMMISSIONS: Scheduled to start week of Aug. 23. Detainees hear charges against them, allowed to make pleas and have judicial procedure explained. Prosecutors and defense attorneys can make various motions before evidence presented.

    MILITARY COMMISSIONS: Panel hears evidence, arguments in cases of detainees facing charges. Sentences include death penalty. Only four detainees have been charged, 15 designated eligible for trial before commissions.

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    Political Prisoner released after 30 years.

    Imad Shiha, 50, who served 30-year-long prison term in Syria, speaks to reporters on Friday, Aug. 6, 2004 in his family home in Rukun ad-Din suburb in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Shiha was released Wednesday as part of a release of 90 political prisoners. (AP Photo Bassem Tellawi).

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    Chinese Sentences 3 Activists to Prison

    BEIJING - A Chinese court on Friday sentenced three activists in the independent Protestant church to up to three years in prison for leaking state secrets, a court official and overseas church activist said.

    The independent church refers to loosely affiliated groups whose followers worship outside the Communist Party-controlled official Protestant church.

    The court in the eastern city of Hangzhou found Xu Yonghai, Liu Fenggang and Zhang Shengqi guilty of passing on information to an overseas magazine about a court case involving another member of the independent church, the China Aid Association said.

    Liu was also found guilty of passing on information about the destruction of unofficial churches outside Hangzhou in a crackdown last year, CAA reported. Liu received a three-year sentence, Xu two years and Zhang one year, the group said.

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    Efi Elad released from Thai Prison of Klong Prem

    The F.P.S.S is please to announce the results of a successful campaign for Israeli man Efi Elad.

    Efi elad was released on the 4/6/04 from Thai Prison of Klong Prem after 6 long months of negotiations.

    For the purposes of facilitating his release an international fund raising campaign was conducted - resulted with 1/2 a million dollars that helped us to get him out of the prison .

    The campaign took place in USA\Belgium\England and Israel covered with the media and services such as F.P.S.S as well as with press.

    The F.P.S.S gives full credit for info and pix to Ilan elhayani, Lawyer & adovocate.

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    Five suicide attempts a day at Holloway prison

    Officers at Holloway prison are cutting down five women a day from nooses, the Guardian has learned, and recently saved one inmate six times in a single night.

    But those women are the lucky ones. Already this year 11 female prisoners in English and Welsh prisons have apparently taken their own lives and campaigners fear that this year will see the greatest number of female jail deaths since records began.

    It is likely to surpass even last year's record of 14 apparent suicides. The death rate has soared over the past 10 years: in 1994, only one prisoner died at her own hands. "The future is looking extremely bleak," said Deborah Coles of Inquest, which works with families of those who have died in custody.

    "The current situation is dismal and the end of the year is a particularly vulnerable time for women. We know that prisons cannot keep women safe: it is not just those who are dying, but the high numbers self-harming and attempting suicide every day."

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    Guantanamo Prisoner Gets to Tell Story

    WASHINGTON - For the first time in the nearly three years since the Sept. 11 attacks, a prisoner picked up as a potential terrorist and held nearly incommunicado at a U.S. prison in Cuba got a chance Friday to convince his jailers that he should go free.

    The hearing at the Navy prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is the government's most visible response since a Supreme Court ruling last month granted new legal rights to about 600 foreign-born men held at the U.S. base on Cuba's southeastern tip.

    Separately Friday, the Justice Department (news - web sites) filed its first detailed response to lawsuits from Guantanamo detainees. The detainees have no constitutional rights, including the right to see a lawyer, the government said in federal court filings.

    The Supreme Court's ruling gave the Guantanamo prisoners a means to challenge their captivity in federal court, and the government will allow outside lawyers to help them, but that does not mean that wider constitutional protections apply, government lawyers wrote.

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    The execution of Thai justice

    For the first time ever, television cameras have been given access to Thailand's notorious Bangkwang prison, also known in the West as the "Bangkok Hilton".

    Of its 7,000 inmates - mostly drug offenders - 883 have been sentenced to death.

    Bangkwang is Bangkok's maximum-security jail; designed for lifers and death row prisoners.

    The Thai people call Bangkwang the "Big Tiger" because it is a man-eater. Scores of prisoners have been put to death in its notorious execution chamber.

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    Jail where hope is in shackles

    THE bright eyes of youth are already dulled. Head shaved and legs shackled by chains, Michael Connell manages a rueful smile. "Anything can happen to you," he says. "But the biggest fear is not knowing when I'm getting out. What I am very worried about is people forgetting me."

    The supermarket worker from Bury is just months into a 99-year jail term in Thailand for drug smuggling. Originally sentenced to death, the punishment was reduced to life after he confessed and co-operated with the investigation.

    He was arrested in November, 2003, after customs officials found 3,400 ecstasy tablets in his travel bag when he arrived on a flight at Bangkok Airport. The pills were hidden in two jars of body lotion Connell said he had bought at a Tesco store in Bury.

    Now aged 20, he's one of some 7,000 inmates inside Thailand's Bang Kwang Prison. Known in the west as the Bangkok Hilton, it's the most notorious prison in the world.

    The Real Bangkok Hilton: This World is the result of two years of negotiations between TV bosses and prison authorities. Cameras have been allowed in for the first time to record the reality of life in a prison known to the Thai people as "The Big Tiger" - because it eats men alive.

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  • The Real Bangkok Hilton – This World.

    Battle to stop a hanging

    A YOUNG Melbourne man due to hang in Singapore for drug crimes will get one of his last chances to save his life today.

    Nguyen Tuong Van, 23, will appeal against his conviction and sentence in Singapore's Court of Appeal on Monday, in a hearing that is not expected to last even the day.

    Nguyen, a former salesman, has been on death row for five months since he was convicted of importing nearly 400 grams of heroin in December 2002.

    He was arrested at Changi International Airport while boarding a Qantas flight to Australia with the drugs strapped to his back and in his backpack.

    He was in transit from Cambodia, and his trial heard he told police he carried the drugs to repay $30,000 in debts accumulated by his twin brother.

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  • ALSO: Australian appeals Singapore death sentence.

    Alan John Davies included among prisoners over 60 years old are due to be released.

    The F.P.S.S has just received word today of prisoner releases planned by Taksin's administration, ostensibly around the Queen's birthday on 14 August.

    On 9 August the first prisoners are due to be released. These will be all those over 60 who have served at least 5 years and have a good prison record. Other releases are due to follow.

    Most notably, Alan John Davies, now in Klong Prem Central Prison block 1, expects to be released on 9 August. He is over 60, has served fourteen and one half years in Thai prisons, and has an excellent prison record.

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    F.P.S.S Press Release - Request urgent intervention for extradition of 16 Vang Tao Laotians.

    F.P.S.S wishes to express immediate concern over the processes that has led to the extradition of the 16 Vang Tao Laotians, particularly, given that on December 30, 2003 the Appellate court of Bangkok had ruled "inadmissible" the extradition request filed by the Lao dictatorship. Moreover, these persons had already been convicted in Oubol provincial court [Thailand] of illegally entering Thailand, and all had completed their sentences and were waiting for the reply of the High Commissioner for Refugees on their refugee status application. In that petition submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the 16 Vang Tao Laotians argued that, if they were returned to Laos, they would face "cruel treatment … to intimidate people who would try to fight the regime, to introduce freedom and democracy."

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    'Death sentence won't stop drug dealers'

    Human rights campaigners have reiterated their call for end to the death penalty, which they say has proven ineffective in deterring drug dealers and is against the basic human right to live.

    "There is no empirical data that supports an argument a country which has the death penalty can drop its offending rate lower than countries that don't apply capital punishment," Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) director Hendardi said on Saturday.

    Hendardi said only God, not the state, had the right to take peoples' lives.

    "The right to life is the fundamental right of every human being. (The government) should forthwith scrap any rules legitimizing the death sentence," he said.

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    Brazil Prison Riots Take Control

    An inmate holds a knife to the back of a hostage on the roof of Frei Caneca Penitentiary complex during rebellion in Rio de Janeiro, July 11, 2004. Special police forces invaded the Frei Caneca Penitentiary complex and they freed five prison guards who were held hostage. Jail riots are common in Brazil's prison system, which is notoriously overcrowded and violent.

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    AIDS Soars as Drug Trade Booms in Nepal

    KATHMANDU, July 7 (OneWorld) - Authorities in Nepal are alarmed by the burgeoning drug trade, which is fuelling a sharp rise in substance abuse and HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) in the Himalayan kingdom.

    Informs the chief of the narcotics and disaster management cell of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Kumar Poudel, "We have noticed a drastic increase in the number of drug peddlers and users."

    Poudel says nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international groups like the United Nations (news - web sites) are aiding efforts to curb the lucrative drug trade in Nepal, where an eight-year Maoist insurgency and political instability have destroyed the economy.

    Police frequently nab peddlers with hauls of heroin and opium usually headed for foreign destinations where they fetch fantastic amounts. For instance, a kilogram of hashish costs around $90 in Nepal as compared to $5,000 in Canada.

    Just last week, five women with ten kilograms of hemp were nabbed in Gulmi district, 400 miles west of the capital Kathmandu.

    Deputy superintendent of police Deg Bahadur GC reveals that his force arrests around a dozen people in possession of varying quantities of injected drugs every month.

    He adds, "The number of drug addicts has gone up in the city areas, especially in places like Kathmandu, (the eastern town of) Dharan and (the tourist city) Pokhara."

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    Pentagon orders hearings at prison

    WASHINGTON - All 535 prisoners being held at the Guantánamo Bay prison will be given military hearings to decide whether they are being wrongly held as ``enemy combatants,'' the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

    The detainees, some of whom have been held for more than two years, will be told of the new procedures by July 17. They were established in response to a landmark Supreme Court ruling last week that the president cannot indefinitely detain terror suspects without a neutral review.

    Under the new policy, in an order signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, each prisoner will be told the factual basis for his detention -- provided the information isn't classified -- and be allowed to present evidence and call witnesses to rebut it, Pentagon and Justice Department officials said.

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  • ALSO - Q&A in Guantanamo Bay Case ...

    Report Finished on Afghanistan Prisoners

    KABUL, Afghanistan - An American general has submitted his report on a network of jails at U.S. bases in Afghanistan where four detainees have died, but only part of his findings will be made public, the military said Wednesday.

    Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby has handed his report to the top American commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, for review, a spokesman said.

    "As soon as we're complete with staffing, we'll be able to release portions of that report," spokesman Maj. Jon Siepmann told reporters. Barno ordered the snap review in May, as the scandal over mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq prompted fresh scrutiny of growing complaints in Afghanistan.

    Jacoby visited some 20 holding facilities, most of them at bases in the south and east of the country where 20,000 U.S.-led forces are battling Taliban and al-Qaida supporters.

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    'Maximum' overcrowding at Scottish prison

    Overcrowding in a hall at a Scottish prison is approaching 100% with three inmates to a cell at times, a report has warned.

    Dr Andrew McLellan, Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, said the problem at Greenock Prison was having a demoralising effect on prisoners.But he praised the jail for addressing almost every concern raised last year.

    It has experienced no escapes, low levels of violence and a full programme of work and activities for women.

    Presenting his findings, Dr McLellan said: "Greenock is three different prisons in one. "There are three halls and in each of them the conditions are very different. This overcrowding means that staff have limited time to deal with prisoners

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    Save the 16 Vang Tao Laotians!

    It is with shock, outrage and sadness that the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) learned of the quiet extradition of the 16 Laotians - arrested following a symbolical taking of control on the 3rd of July 2000 at the Vang Tao frontier post - to the Lao People Democratic Republic (LPDR), whose reputation has been established in Human Rights and Civil Liberties violations.

    This decision from the Thai authorities, which was ironically taken on the fourth birthday of the Vang Tao operation, first of all comes as a surprise, as on December 30, 2003 the Appellate court of Bangkok had ruled "inadmissible" the extradition request filed by the Lao dictatorship, on the grounds that the alleged wrongful actions of the 16 Laotians were bearing "a political nature". Moreover, these persons had already been sentenced by the Thai justice and had served their sentence in Thai jails, and were waiting for the reply of the High Commissioner for Refugees on their refugee status application.

    The LMHR is also sad to see that the Kingdom of Thailand, country considered democratic and steeped in Buddhist values, decided to extradite these persons, upon the mere allegation of "illegal entry", to a State denounced by the International Community as a totalitarian, repressive, freedom denying regime towards the Lao people, in particular towards political prisoners and the ethnic and religious minorities of that country.

    Thus put in the hands of the regime, hands and feet tied, the sixteen extradites have no chance of fighting for their rights, of being granted fair proceedings and a fair trial, of being detained in conditions respecting human dignity and International Conventions.

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    Health of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails deteriorating

    NEW DELHI, July 04(Online): Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in Indian jails have entered their 10th day of hunger strike and are said to be in critical condition .

    These prisoners have been on hunger strike for the last ten days and due to their worsening condition, they are admitted in the hospital .

    The imprisonment period of these Pakistani detainees, who have passed large part of their lives in Indian jails, has been completed long before but their release is far away .

    On the appeal of these prisoners, the Supreme Court has already issued orders for their freedom .

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  • Pak-India to accelerate process of prisoners' exchange
  • Pakistani prisoners in India on hunger strike

    Court Denounces Bush on Terror Suspects

    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the war on terrorism does not give the government a "blank check" to hold a U.S. citizen and foreign-born terror suspects in legal limbo, a forceful denunciation of Bush administration tactics since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Ruling in two cases, the high court refused to endorse a central claim of the White House: that the government has authority to seize and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny access to courts or lawyers while interrogating them.

    A state of war "is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the most significant case of the day, a ruling that gives American-born detainee Yaser Esam Hamdi the right to fight his detention in a federal court.

  • Court Denounces Bush on Terror Suspects
  • Supreme Court snubs Bush over terror suspects

    111 Cuban Dissidents Trickle Out of Prison

    HAVANA (Reuters) - An independent Cuban journalist walked out of prison to become the sixth ailing government opponent freed after a crackdown on dissent last year, opposition sources said on Thursday.

    Manuel Vazquez Portal, 52, who suffers from respiratory problems, was one of 75 dissidents sentenced to an average of 19 years in prison after daylong trials in April 2003. "He arrived home around midnight and looked well," said Laura Pollan, wife of still-imprisoned Hector Maseda.

    Academic Roberto de Miranda, 62, who had been sentenced to 20 years behind bars, was also released on Wednesday. He suffers from a heart condition.

    The first of the six was released in April and all were conditionally freed for health reasons.

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  • See Also - Sixth of 75 Cuban Dissidents Released ...

    Wanted Australian found dead in Thai prison cell

    An Australian man arrested in Thailand and charged with murder in his home state of New South Wales has been found dead in his Bangkok prison cell.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs says he died of self inflicted injuries.

    The body of 41-year-old Emil Chang was found in a cell at Bangkok's Klong Prem prison.

    Chang was arrested earlier this month after Australian authorities asked for help in his arrest and extradition.

    He was due to be sent back to Sydney to face charges over a murder three years ago and with engaging in drug dealing.

    At a media conference after his arrest, Chang strongly denied the charges.

    He told reporters he was innocent.

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  • See Also - Wanted Aus man dead in Thai jail

    Women's Prison Fashion Show in Nairobi

    An inmate model is congratulated by fellow inmates during a fashion show as part of a rehabilitation program inside Langata women's prison in Nairobi June 26, 2004. Kenya is aiming to carry out penal reforms aimed at turning prisons into rehabilitation, rather than punishment centers. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

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    Guard shares insider's view of prison life

    Margaret Curran, 53, has for 11 years been a correctional officer at the 8,008-acre Clemens Unit, a 111-year-old prison farm in Brazoria County that now specializes in housing 14- to 16-year-old male offenders who were tried as adults. Curran, who has four children -- a daughter in middle school and three sons, all in college and one also working as a correctional officer -- talked recently with Houston Chronicle reporter Richard Stewart about life on the inside.

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    THE TRUTH ON TORTURE

    The White House last week re leased hundreds of documents showing that President Bush in sisted that all prisoners captured in Afghanistan be treated humanely, even if they weren't covered by the Geneva Conventions.

    But that's not what much of the national news media chose to report.
    Instead, they focused on an August 2002 memorandum from the Justice Department that raised a legal argument supporting aggressive interrogation tactics — despite the fact that the memo was never acted on.
    Indeed, its conclusions were contradicted by the president's specific directive six months earlier.

    In that document, Bush noted that he believed he had "the authority under the Constitution" to deny Geneva Conventions protection to detainees captured during the campaign that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime. But, he added, "I decline to exercise that authority."

    That, of course, dashes Democratic hopes of proving that the Abu Ghraib prison reflected a campaign of deliberate torture directed by the top levels of the administration.

    The documents demonstrate that there was intense debate within the administration on what constituted acceptable interrogation methods.

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    Foreigners overcrowding Malaysian local jails and lockups

    SUNGAI BULOH June 16 - An increasing number of foreigners coming to this country are found to be involved in crimes resulting in local jails and lockups being overcrowded with foreigners.

    Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar said 6,597 foreigners were jailed at Sungai Buloh Prison between 2001 and last month while 15,751 foreigners were under remand for the same period.

    "I have visited Kajang Prison recently. Of the 1,200 women prisoners there, 700 are foreigners.

    "We have built jails for Malaysians. Now there are more foreign prisoners than Malaysians in our jails and lockups," he told reporters after launching Prisons Department's Warrant Cards at Sungai Buloh Prison, here Wednesday.

    He said from January to May this year, 65,737 of the two million foreigners in the country were detained for various criminal offences.

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    Ex-Saudi Prisoner Mourns Beheaded Friend

    Former Saudi prisoner Sandy Mitchell today spoke of his friendship with a US hostage beheaded by al Qaida militants.

    He described Paul Johnson as "one of the kindest men I have ever known" and recalled how the American and his Thai wife supported his own wife while he was in prison.

    Mr Mitchell’s comments came as it emerged last night that the al Qaida cell which beheaded Mr Johnson in Saudi Arabia may have been linked to an attack on a BBC crew.

    Saudi authorities confiscated three cars used by the group, including one believed to have been used in the attack on cameraman Simon Cumbers and security correspondent Frank Gardner.

    The vehicles were recovered following a gun battle between Saudi security forces and the militants which left four terrorists dead including their leader Abdulaziz al-Moqrin.

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    South African Beauty still in Thai prison

    Port Elizabeth - Former Eastern Cape beauty Vanessa Goosen is not among the 98 foreigners in Thai prisons who have been granted their freedom as part of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 75th birthday celebration.

    Goosen's attorney, Mpumelelo (Bond) Nyoka on Wednesday said he immediately spoke to the Thai embassy upon hearing about the amnesty. "I could cry when I heard she would not be freed," he said. "I am very worried about her and keep praying for a miracle."

    There are no South Africans among the 89 foreigners - mostly Africans and Asians locked up on minor charges - who were released along with 5 623 Thais on the eve of the king's birthday.

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    Hope for SA's foreign jailbirds

    Cape Town - A man has been sentenced to one year in prison in Surinam in South America after being caught with cocaine with a street value of R3.5m.

    Police officers in the South American country arrested Abraham Nkosi, 37, in December after he took two computers to a courier company. He apparently wanted to send them to Ireland.

    However, police found 2.3kg of cocaine hidden in the appliances. Nkosi claimed he had only dropped off the computers as a favour for a friend and was not aware of the drugs.

    But, police found no trace of the so- called friend.

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    Refugees rename Baxter camp 'Abu Ghraib'

    Refugees at South Australia's Baxter detention centre have renamed the facility Abu Ghraib, saying they had suffered similar violence to the Iraqi prisoners.

    In a letter read to a Sydney rally to mark World Refugee Day, the Baxter detainees said the support from parts of the community was comforting given the nightmare they were living behind the razor wire.

    "Recently its name was agreed to be Abu Ghraib prison, because all the mistreatment, humiliation and torture that the coalition soldiers have committed against the prisoners in Baghdad have happened in Australia too," the letter, read to the rally, said.

    "[It's happened] against the ladies, against the children, against the men who came to your land to be safe and far away from any violence, imprisonment or discrimination."

    The letter's main writer said after four years in detention he understood what humanity, human rights and equal opportunity meant - but he had seen no evidence of it in the way he had been treated.

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    South African man sent to Mozambique prison

    Maputo - A court in Mozambique sentenced two foreigners - one South African, the other German - to eight years in prison on fraud and drug charges, reports said on Friday.

    German Josef Landstorfer and South African Basil Davis Granwell were arrested in October 2000, the Mozambican News Agency reported. They were sentenced by a court in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

    The two attempted to bribe top officials to secure their release from prison, the report said. - Sapa-AP

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    Prison a wicked and terrible experience'

    Robert James went to prison a bitter man. After all, he says, he wasn't even guilty of the illegal possession of firearm and shooting with intent charges on which he was convicted. And to add to his anger, he says the police never produced the gun he allegedly fired, accidentally hitting a patron at a stage show at which he performed. "They did not even swab my fingers or anything to see if I had just fired a gun," James tells the Sunday Observer.

    That was five years ago. Today, James, 34, is no longer the angry young man who spent the early portion of his incarceration plotting vendetta killings of cops and politicians. He's channelled that anger into a zeal to help rehabilitate persons still in prison, while at the same time warning others of the horrors of jail.

    "I spent four years and three months in prison. It was a wicked and terrible experience," he says. "Mi wouldn't want even mi enemy to experience what mi go through in prison. I would love other people to hear my opinion and not go down this road." James, who has been on the outside now for just over a year, was actually sentenced to seven years, but was paroled after four-and-a-half years, based on his good behaviour and involvement in rehabilitation programmes.

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    UN human rights expert dealing with torture visit to China called off

    Chinese prisoner looks on at a prison quarry.

    Human rights groups accused China of failing in its commitment to abide by its international obligations after a visit by a UN human rights expert dealing with torture was called off.

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    We Can Torture, but You Better Not

    Over two years after being freed from torture in a prison in Laos, Kay Danes is still haunted by the physical and psychological pain she endured for 10 months.

    While this Australian mother of two recalls being regularly pistol whipped, threatened with death, mocked and ridiculed by her jailers in 2000, her husband Kerry was subject to worse pain in the same jail.

    "His legs were put in wooden leg blocks that weighed about four to five kilograms (app. 10 lbs.) and (that had) fishing lines in them which cut into (the) flesh," she told IPS. "He was electrocuted and sewage water was thrown down his open mouth as the Lao interrogators tried to drown him."

    The Danes, who ran a security agency and were caught up in a government dispute with a gem mining company, were freed in 2001, in a case closely followed by the Australian embassy.

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    Laos' forgotten rebels battle for survival 30 years after CIA recruited them, Hmong fear surrendering to communist government

    Xaysomboune Special Zone, Laos -- At the age of 12, Moua Toua Ther was recruited by the CIA to fight communism. At 14, he lost his left hand from a bullet wound. At 17, the United States left him with three choices: surrender, flee or fight. He chose the last.

    Thirty years later, his army long forgotten, Ther still holds out against the government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

    "We thought the Americans would surely come back and help us," Ther says from his jungle hideout in the mountains of northern Laos. "But they never did."

    Instead, he and a dwindling band of loyalists are battling for survival from continuous government military campaigns, with little assistance from their former paymasters.

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    Report Says U.S. Has 'Secret' Detention Centers

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centers worldwide and about half of these operate in total secrecy, said a human rights report released on Thursday.

    Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said in a report that secrecy surrounding these facilities made "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely but inevitable."

    "The abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed in isolation," said Deborah Pearlstein, director of the group's U.S. Law and Security program, referring to the U.S. Naval base prison in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) where abuses are being investigated.

    "This is all about secrecy, accountability and the law," Pearlstein told a news conference. The report coincided with news that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold a suspect in a prison near Baghdad without telling the Red Cross. Pearlstein said this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Defense Department directives.

    She said thousands of security detainees were being held by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites) as well as locations elsewhere which the military refused to disclose. "The U.S. government is holding prisoners in a secret system of off- shore prisons beyond the reach of adequate supervision, accountability of law," said the report.

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    Powell Relays Story of Trafficking Victim

    Khan was 11-years old when she was kidnapped from her home in the hill country of Laos. She was taken to an embroidery factory in Thailand. She and dozens of other children were made to work 14 hours a day for food and clothing. They received no wages.

    "It's called slavery," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday in recounting Khan's fate as he released the State Department's annual report on human trafficking. He said the practice affects 600,000 to 800,000 persons each year.

    "We're talking about women and girls as young as 6 years old trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation, men trafficked into forced labor, children trafficked as child soldiers," Powell said.

    In trying to encourage governments to confront trafficking problems, the State Department holds out the possibility of sanctions against those which fall short.

    On this year's list of offenders are Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea (news - web sites), Sierra Leone, Sudan and Venezuela.

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    Marjie Lundstrom: In Mexican prison, American woman awaits justice, help

    Who will fight for Dawn Marie Wilson?

    For a while this week, it appeared her long and terrifying ordeal might be over. It seemed almost certain the 49-year-old San Diego woman sentenced to five years in a Mexican prison for carrying prescription drugs would finally win her freedom.

    She did not.

    In a stunning development, a Mexican appeals court rejected her challenge - her last stop in that country's judicial system, effectively sealing her five-year prison term.

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    Amnesty International calls for the release of Igor Sutiagin

    Russian Federation: Amnesty International calls for the release of Igor Sutiagin from prison pending retrial On 5 April 2004, the Moscow City Court found Igor Sutiagin, a 39- year-old nuclear scientist, guilty of high treason in a closed trial. Two days later, the court handed him the longest prison term for high treason since Soviet times - 15 years in a strict regime colony.

    Igor Sutiagin's arrest and charges raised serious concerns that the case was brought for political reasons. He is one of more than a dozen independent scientists, journalists, and environmentalists, who have faced politically motivated prosecutions in the past decade for their cooperation with foreigners on issues considered to be sensitive by the Russian government. Violations of international fair trial standards have marred proceedings against Igor Sutiagin throughout the investigation and trial.

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    Check prisons staff conditions in Nairobi Prison

    The government has been called upon to review living conditions of prisons staff.

    Bishop Philip Anyalo from Kisumu, made the call when he led a thanks-giving service at the Nairobi industrial area Remands Prison. The prison is said to have over five thousand staff members living in deplorable housing units.

    The Bishop too led the congregation in breaking the ground where a church will be built by the end of the year. He said the church would be used for prayer services and exit point for the prisoners who are being released to the society.

    Nairobi’s industrial area remand prison has 7000 inmates.

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    Tiananmen protester freed from prison after 9 years

    BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese political activist who participated in the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing was released today after serving nine years in prison, his mother said.

    LiHai, 50, was sentenced in 1996 on charges of divulging state secrets after he compiled lists of people imprisoned in the wave of arrests that followed the bloody June 4 crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

    "He came back this morning," Li's mother, Gong Liwen, said in a telephone interview. "It's a very happy occasion but there's still no freedom.

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    Better deal for mothers in prison

    More than 17,000 children in England and Wales each year face an unhappy and uncertain future after their mothers are sent to prison, a charity said.

    The Prison Reform Trust is calling for urgent action to improve support and resettlement services for thousands of mothers in prisons and their families.

    Director Juliet Lyon urged courts to consider alternatives to custodial sentences for women who had not committed serious or violent crimes.

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    Afghanistan Pol-i Charkhy's prison

    Colonel Abdull Wahed, logistical director of Pol-i Charkhy's prison, writes notes before checking lunch for the more than 300 prisoners of the jail in Kabul, Afghanistan , Monday, May 3, 2004. In the next few days over eight hundreds Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners are going to be transferred from Shibirghan jails in Javsjan province to this Kabul Central Prison, according to a Colonel at the prison. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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    Deadly Brazilian Prison Rebellion Ends

    PORTO VELHO, Brazil - Inmates ended a rebellion that left nine people dead at an overcrowded Brazilian prison on Thursday, after authorities agreed to improve conditions.

    During the height of the five-day takeover, rioters carried out revenge killings in which at least one victim was decapitated and another hacked to death, officials said.

    Seven other inmates died and scores of visitors were prevented from leaving during the uprising at Urso Branco State Prison in state capital of Porto Velho, some 1,500 miles northwest of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.

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  • SPECIAL - News Archive Pix from Brazil Riots
  • See Also - Brazilian Prisoners End Five-Day Prison Uprising, BBC Reports ....
  • See Also - Some Flee, Others Eat Cats in Prison Riot ....
  • See Also - Prison riot toll climbs to 14, some decapitated ....
  • See Also - Five found dead in Brazil prison....
  • See Also - Police find decapitated bodies in Brazil prison ....
  • See Also - Rioting Brazil inmates get wishes ....

    Drug charge backpacker in court

    A 23-year-old British backpacker held in an Indian jail on drug smuggling charges has appeared in court.

    Daisy Angus was arrested in December 2002 when customs officials at Bombay Airport found 22 pounds of cannabis hidden in her suitcase.

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    Guantanamo Bay - How we survived jail hell

    For two years the Tipton Three have been silent prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Now, in this remarkable interview with David Rose, they describe for the first time the extraordinary story of their journey from the West Midlands to Camp Delta

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  • Click Here for Guantanimo Bay pages...



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