Survey of detention visiting mechanisms in Africa
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Mechanisms of detention oversight may refer to any number of activities or approaches which would result in the institution of detention being held accountable to the overseeing body. Such actions may include public reporting, the referral of cases for criminal investigation and prosecution, reporting by prison authorities to external bodies, dialogue between relevant authorities, the resolution of individual complaints and/or monitoring of conditions in prisons through on-site visits. Visits to places of detention by independent persons or bodies are regarded as a form of oversight which includes a wide range of activities and initiatives aimed at monitoring the executive. Ultimately, states need to examine critically the use of detention and imprisonment in the African context, for imprisonment is costly, not only at a monetary level, but also at a socio-economic level where unnecessary and excessive imprisonment can have lasting negative consequences for individuals, families and communities that extend well beyond the prison walls.