The workshop brought together national NGOs, international organisations, donors, and government representatives. The aim was to build consensus on the causes and effects of overcrowding, the obstacles blocking an improvement in the situation, and on viable solutions within the current context.
Siren presented analysis showing how overcrowding stems from excessive arrests; overuse of pre-trial detention; inadequate transport options for taking detainees to court; inconsistent coordination between security and justice sector stakeholders; the under-provision of legal counsel; and archaic case management in the court systems.
In small groups, participants discussed these key drivers and proposed additional factors like inadequate legislation regarding prison management and limited enforcement of existing legislation; poor infrastructure, and the lack of rehabilitation programs. Many agreed pre-trial detention is a major contributor to overcrowding, recognising its ripple effects across the criminal justice system. Participants acknowledged that overcrowding cannot be addressed by building more prisons alone, highlighting the multifaceted nature of overcrowding and emphasising the need for strategic approaches to address these key drivers incrementally.