Francis KONE, IVORY COAST
“I want to improve criminal justice by fighting against abusive and unjustified pre-trial detention, by providing training on international law, by monitoring detention facilities, and by advocating for the respect of the fundamental rights of detainees.”
Mr. Francis Kone holds a certificate in international humanitarian law, a degree from the School of Business at Abidjan University, and a certificate from the Equitas International Human Rights Training Program. He currently works as a project coordinator for the organization Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) in Côte d’Ivoire and in partnership with FIACAT (International Federation of ACAT). He is also the coordinator of the Documentation and Observation Commission at the Ivorian Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
The challenge: Francis has identified prison overcrowding as one of the root causes of mistreatment that occurs in prison. In addition, there are notable problems in terms of hygiene, health and nutrition. Ultimately, prison overcrowding is directly linked to the large number of pre-trial detainees and persons awaiting trial, a phenomena that stems from logistical, technical and capacity problems such as an insufficient number of magistrates, lawyers, and an underdeveloped legal aid system. The combination of these factors has resulted in inadequate implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a large part of the population being denied access to justice due to the prohibitively high costs of legal assistance and a lack of safeguards for unlawful delays in pre-trial detention.
Project: Fighting against abusive pre-trial detention by accelerating legal procedures
Francis’ main objective is thus to combat excessive pre-trial detention and reduce prison overcrowding in two correction centers in Abidjan. He will, through his JusticeMakers project, set up activities such as seminars and workshops to train criminal and civil society actors, make regular visits to prisons and detainees to ensure that they have proper legal support to manage their cases, monitor prison records to verify that cases are correctly logged, and, finally, take on the cases of detainees with the help of volunteer lawyers while working closely with magistrates. Thus, he aims to improve living conditions in prison and contribute to the proper implementation of justice, ensuring people detained unjustly have speedy access to justice.