During 2014, we supported capacity building projects to improve
prison conditions and reduce mistreatment in countries where
high numbers of British nationals are detained. In Latin America,
a coordinated effort has already produced positive outcomes for
British detainees held in some of the most dangerous and difficult
prisons in the world. Many of these prisoners have worrying
physical and mental health issues.
Prisoner Transfer Agreements (PTAs): the British Embassy
in Brazil worked with the UK National Offenders Management
Service to understand what was needed both in the UK and
Brazil to put an agreement in place. The UK now completes more
successful transfers than any other PTA-eligible country in Brazil.
Repatriation: until very recently, released foreign prisoners in
Peru found themselves stranded without access to shelter or food.
The process for repatriation could take up to two years or more.
Following concerted lobbying by consular staff, the law has been
changed so that the process can now be completed in two-anda-
half months and can begin before the detainee is released.
Additionally, a new law allows repatriation of foreign prisoners
after meeting a third of their sentence. 24 of the 36 British
nationals detained in Peru are eligible to apply.
Family contact: cooperation with Brazilian prison officials led
in February to British prisoners being allowed controlled access to
Skype so that they could keep in touch with their family in the UK.
Safety: in Venezuela, UK lobbying contributed to the opening
of a new prison with a wing exclusively for non-violent foreign
prisoners. This now means that all sentenced British nationals are
in the same prison with improved and safe visiting facilities. We
continue to lobby for the improvement of basic prison services,
including food, water, and access to medical facilities.
Prison Reform: in Panama, we are working with UN Office of
Drugs and Crime, the International Centre for Prison Studies, and
the Panamanian Prison Services Academy to assist the Panamanian
government to develop its prison reform program.