"Long list" of indicators proposed toward pre-trial justice in Africa

At a seminar held in Cape Town in May 2015, participants from PPJA partner organisations discussed indicators for measuring pre-trial justice in Africa. A "long-list" of draft proposed indicators was agreed upon by the end of the seminar. Further consultations are planned to expand the extent of consultation and to refine the proposed indicators.

An indicator measures progress toward a goal. A goal describes a desirable future condition. An indicator is usually a numeric measure providing information in relation to the goal. Applying the principle that indicators measure progress toward a goal, the participants first identified the problems of their criminal justice systems, with a particular focus on pre-trial detention. They then identified the goal or desirable future situtation in relation to the problem. Finally they proposed a possible indicator, or in the absence of an easy indicator, a method which could measure progress toward that goal. For more information on indicators for pre-trial justice, the theme section Indicators for pre-trial justice in Africa provides a range of resources and news items. The draft problems, goals and indicator measures agreed at the Cape Town seminar, appear below: 

Arbitrary arrests

The desired situation is that only purposeful arrests occur. This could be measured by the proportion of arrests which actually result in a prosecution.

High volumes of arrests, arrests on outdated offences and offences targeting the poor

The desired situation is that there are few arrests for non-serious offences. This could be measured by the proportion of arrests which relate to serious crimes.

Prolonged detention in police stations

​The desired situation is that all arrested persons go to court to have their detention confirmed within the required 48 hours. This could be measured by the proportion of arrests which go to court within 48 hours.

High use of pre-trial detention awaiting trial

The desired situation is that there would be few people who are detained prior to trial. This could be measured by the proportion of arrests coming to court which result in detention, or the proportion of arrests coming to court which result in conditional release.

Very long duration of pre-trial detention

The desired situation is people would not be detained for long periods awaiting trial. This could be measured by the median duration of detention, and the duration of detention of the longest case (the maximum duration of detention).

Corruption

The desired situation is that there would be no corruption. This could be measured by the proportion of people leaving court or police stations saying that they had to pay a bribe and/or who felt that justice was served (exit polls are envisaged here).

Poor record-keeping, missing case files

The desired situation is that every person deprived of their liberty should be able to access their records. This could be measured by the proportion of files that one tried to access, being accessed (court files / police dockets / files from prosecution agencies)

Inadequate capacity of persons in the criminal justice system

The desired situation is a criminal justice system in which people know their jobs and do their jobs properly. This can probably only be measured subjectively by experts.

Outdated legislative procedural and substantive frameworks

The desired situation is that that laws of the country are in line with International Human Rights Law, sub-regional rights instruments, and the national constitution, and are removed of all outdated, vague and inappropriate content. This would have to be determined by expert legal analysis.

Political interference

​The desired situation would be a criminal justice system in which criminal justice actors take decisions free of political interference. This can probably only be determined subjectively by expert analysts.

Recidivism and "revolving doors"

The desired situation is one in which released convicts and detainees are well reintegrated into society. This can be measured by the proportion of re-entries into prisons.

Overcrowding of places of detention

​The desired situation is that prisons and place of detention hold the number of people for which they were designed or fewer. This can be measured by the percentage occupancy of places of detention.

Lack of public confidence in the criminal justice system

The desired situation is that people have confidence in the criminal justice system. This could be measured by surveys, or by changes in the number of retributive/vigilante acts occuring.

Lack of recognition of and unresponsiveness to traditional and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms

​The desired situation is the existence of a vibrant, rights-respecting, recognised and integrated community resolution mechanism. This could be measured by the existence of relevant laws plus a subjective determination of the situation in practice.

Inadequate protection of vulnerable groups, such as women, children, the disabled

The desired situation is that there is adequate protection of vulnerable groups. This could be measured by the existence of relavtive laws, plus a subjective determination, and possibly also through a separately developed checklist of requirements.

Lack of motivation and professionalism of actors in the system

The desired situation is that criminal justice system actors are motivated, professional and rights-respecting. This can probably only be measured by subjective expert analysis.

Poor quality of decisions and inconsistent decisions

High quality (just, fair, transparent, lawful, timely) criminal justice system decisions are desired. This can pobably only be measured subjectively.

Poor services and conditions for those detained in pre-trial detention

The desired situation is conditions of detention which meet minimum standards (UNSMR and Luanda Guidelines). This can be measured by a simple checklist of these conditions.

Lack of access to family and community support structures for detainees

The desired situation is one in which people detained have access to family and community. This could be measured by the proportion of prisoners being visited regularly.

Lack of access to affordable criminal defencee

The desired situation is one in which there is affordable and accessible quality legal representation, assistance, and advice for all detainees. This could be measured by the number of public defenders and/or paralegals and/or pro bono defenders per pre-trial detainee. There would need to be a subjective assessment to measure quality.

Stigma of detention

The desired situation is that stigma is reduced. This can probably only be determined by surveys or subjective expert assessment.

Inaccessibility of information held by the state

The desired situation is that there are accurate state record-keeping systems. This can be measured by whether the state is willing and able to give basic information about the system (checklist).

Torture as a subculture of law enforcement

The desired situation is that there is no torture. This could be measured by surveys, or by the number of deaths in custody as a result of law enforcement action.

Police brutality

The desired situation is the minimum use of force on arrest. This could be measured by surveys, or by changes in the number of deaths as a result of police action. 

Poor evidence supporting convictions

The desired situation is that high quality and timeous evidence supports convictions. This could be measured subjectively, through a random sample of judgments.

A further series of consultations is planned to further consult on and refine these draft indicators. Organisations wishing to become involved in the consultation process are welcome to email PPJA at ppja@communitylawcentre.org.za.

 

 

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