Prisoner's Rights in International Law

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“Prisoner’s Rights In International Law” I. Introduction: History of Rights for Prisoners Imprisonment, or the forcible confinement of a person, has been a long standing practice and tradition in the world’s history (Roberts). Dating as far back as 400 B.C., prisons have held a variety of meanings and served a wide array of functions, but in its fundamental use, prisons are intended to supplement the rise of a state as a form of social organization (Roberts). The most common use of prisons is as a supplement to a state’s justice system, in which individuals found guilty and convicted of crimes are sent for a set period of incarceration (Roberts). Outside of punishing civil crimes, prisons have been used by numerous regimes as tools of political repression, often punishing and detaining individuals without trail or other due process (Robert). Another practiced use of prisons has come in times of war and conflict, where persons—both combatant and non-combatant—are held captivate by a state in military camps as prisoners of war, for both legitimate and illegitimate reasons (Robert). It is in the latter use that the prison system has become highly contested, especially after witnessing the extreme atrocities from World War II compounded by the perverse use of prisons and detention facilities as means of oppression--- thousands being persecuted on the basis of racial, religious and political terms (Roberts). Combat zones were no exception, as prisoners of war were exploited for their labor and subjugated to both mental and physical abuse (Roberts). From this arrangement of prisons as systematic institutions of violence, a broad consensus emerged at the worldwide level demanding the international community create protections for in... ... middle of paper ... ...red on the historic understand of securing rights for the state, rather than its citizenry. Seen to be the ultimate and overarching authority in which the world should act and determine their domestic as well as foreign policies, human rights serve as a “striking inroad into the usually well-preserved domain of sovereign states”. This construction of rights for prisoners has led to great confusion, as well as hostility between state’s as they feel parts of their sovereignty being infringed on as the international community dictates not only what the state can and cannot do, it imposes a set of norms that may be completely foreign onto the country. The struggle between the recognition of prisoner rights and a state’s sovereignty has resulted in great tension throughout the international community, and has ultimately led some states to reject the proposals.

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