What is prison abuse

World Report 2002: Prisons
The number of prisoners around the world is steadily increasing. This leads to overcrowded prisons and detention centers. Even in countries where there are alternatives to imprisonment as a punitive measure, imprisonment is often preferred.
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Prison massacres, dramatic protests, and violent mistreatment by prison words are occasional headlines in the media. The miserable everyday conditions that most prisoners suffer from, however, remain largely undocumented. Since the public interest in this topic is minimal, little progress has been made in the conditions in prisons and other prisons to date.

The fact that human rights groups, journalists and other observers have no access to prisons in many countries only promotes public ignorance.

The following pages provide information on prison conditions, abuse in prisons, human rights protection for prisoners and other issues:


Since 1987, Human Rights Watch has conducted special prison investigations and campaigns for prisoner rights. Our goal is to bring global attention to prison conditions. We believe that governments that claim to respect human rights should be judged not only in terms of political freedoms but also how prisoners (including non-political prisoners) are treated. Time and again, our research has shown that even democratic countries, which are seldom subject to human rights investigations, actually frequently have human rights violations in prisons.

Human Rights Watch is working with numerous local partners to investigate detention conditions in prisons around the world. So we try to put pressure on governments to respect the human rights of prisoners.

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