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K&L Gates Assists Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Coordinating Legal Framework Survey of Pre-Trial Detention Across 46 Commonwealth Jurisdictions

28 June 2022

Singapore – Lawyers from K&L Gates Straits Law LLC, the Singapore office of global law firm K&L Gates, with support from the firm’s London office, have assisted Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) with conducting a comparative review of the legal policy framework of pre-trial detention across the 54 Commonwealth Member States. International arbitration partner Raja Bose (Singapore) led the matter with the assistance of special counsel Camilla de Moraes (London) and senior associate Rob Houston (Singapore).

The cross-office team coordinated with local counsel, ministries, and other individuals for 46 of the Commonwealth jurisdictions, with CHRI separately conducting research or obtaining support from participating law firms in the remaining jurisdictions of the Commonwealth.  The project was initially referred to participating firms by Thomson Reuters' TrustLaw service.

CHRI’s global release of the report containing its findings, Guilty Till Proven Innocent?: Safeguarding the Rights of Pretrial Detainees across the Commonwealth, took place during the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, from 20 to 25 June 2022.  A core finding of the report is that, across the Commonwealth: “There are gaps in legal policy frameworks that are essential to safeguard the rights of pre-trial detainees, thus necessitating an immediate and in-depth review of such laws by Governments. This is important as pre-trial detention not only impacts the person detained, but can have a damaging socio-economic impact on detainees’ families and communities outside prison too.”

The report’s launch occurred at the Commonwealth People’s Forum 2022, a gathering associated with the CHOGM that is intended to “ask and try to answer the big, important questions of our age.”  A panel discussion following the launch included Salil Tripathi, Senior Advisor for the Institute of Human Rights and Business as well as a CHRI UK Trustee; Jonathan Osei Owusu, Founder and Executive Director, POS Foundation, Ghana; Madhurima Dhanuka, CHRI, India; and Adrian Alexander, Caribbean Umbrella Body for Restorative Behaviour (CURB), Trinidad and Tobago. 

Dhanuka, CHRI’s Head of the Prison Reforms Programme, stated: “We wish to extend our sincere thanks to all of the participating firms in this important review of the laws on pre-trial detention across the Commonwealth Member States. In particular, the global law firm K&L Gates provided invaluable assistance in coordinating legal research with local counsel across 46 of the 54 Commonwealth jurisdictions. Without that critical support, the essential work accomplished across every jurisdiction of the Commonwealth that informs CHRI’s report on pre-trial detention would have been simply impossible.”

More information about CHRI’s work is available on the Commonwealth website, with the report on pre-trial detention and listing of participating firms and individuals available online here.  

Please see our firm’s pro bono page for more information on the wide-ranging initiatives that our lawyers lead and support.  

K&L Gates is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. K&L Gates Straits Law LLC is the Singapore office of K&L Gates and a Singapore law firm with full representation capacity to advise on Singapore law. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, growth and middle-market companies, capital markets participants and entrepreneurs in every major industry group as well as public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and individuals. 

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