Criticism Grows Over Caging Defendants in Courtrooms Abroad


The practice of confining criminal defendants in cages or other enclosures in courtrooms around the world is coming under increased criticism, reports the New York Times. Long eschewed as prejudicial by American courts and by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, locked docks, either metal cells or enclosures made of glass or wood, are still common, not only in countries like Russia and Egypt where the judicial systems often face international criticism, but also in many Western democracies, including Britain, France, Canada and Australia.

Critics say that keeping defendants locked up in court presumes guilt, hinders the defense and often has no basis in law, resulting instead from administrative rules. The practice is coming under new scrutiny by legal experts and rights advocates, who say the potential harm — not only to defendants, but also to the judicial process in general — has multiplied now that court proceedings are often broadcast live, around the world on the Internet. The European Court of Human Rights has issued several rulings in recent years criticizing the use of locked docks as degrading or inhumane.

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