ACJR Publications

This section contains ACJR publications and those of CSPRI (Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative), its predecessor.
Research Reports
  • NPA Issue Paper 5: Accountability of the NPA | by Jean Redpath
    Public accountability is crucial to demonstrating and achieving independence. Ac ... Public accountability is crucial to demonstrating and achieving independence. Accountability through public transparency can achieve the level of prosecutorial independence and accountability required to ensure that the public has confidence in the decisions being made, thus ensuring the trust of public. Various kinds of accountability apply to the NPA: internal accountability, accountability to Parliament, and public accountability. This Issue Paper argues that heightened public accountability, through clarity and transparency of policies and processes, are required to ensure an objective, independent, Constitutional prosecution service, which enjoys public trust.
    Mar 18, 2022
  • NPA Issue Paper 4: Transparency in high-profile corruption matters | by Jean Redpath
    The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) tends to follow a highly secretive and ... The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) tends to follow a highly secretive and confidential approach to all prosecutions, including those in relation to high-profile corruption. The problem with this approach is that it fails to take into account the reasons for confidentiality and secrecy, and whether or not those reasons still pertain in high-profile corruption cases. The approach also fails to appreciate the risks posed by an unnecessarily secretive approach in these kinds of matters. This Issue Paper will consider the special case of high profile corruption and comment on the nature and extent of transparency necessary in such cases.
    Mar 18, 2022
  • NPA Issue Paper 3: Effectiveness and Efficiency | by Jean Redpath
    The question of the effectiveness and efficiency of the NPA is key to the proper ... The question of the effectiveness and efficiency of the NPA is key to the proper functioning of South Africa’s democracy. This is because the NPA is the sole custodian of criminal accountability. Properly measuring effectiveness and efficiency is key to ensuring that the NPA does in fact functioning correctly. The evidence suggests that the way in which effectiveness has been measured has not only failed to do this, but has created perverse incentives which have undermined effectiveness. Effectiveness and efficiency are separate enquires and should be interrogated separately.
    Mar 17, 2022
Peer-reviewed Publications
  • Journal Article: Africa, Prisons and COVID-19 Journal for Human Rights Practice; Volume 12, No 2
    Africa’s prisons are a long-standing concern for rights defenders given the pr ... Africa’s prisons are a long-standing concern for rights defenders given the prevalence of rights abuses, overcrowding, poor conditions of detention and the extent to which the criminal justice system is used to target the poor. The paper surveys 24 southern and east African countries within the context of COVID-19. Between 5 March and 15 April 2020 COVID-19 had spread to 23 southern and east African countries, except Lesotho. The overwhelming majority of these countries imposed general restrictions on their populations from March 2020 and nearly all restricted visits to prisons to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic and government responses demonstrated the importance of reliable and up to date data on the prison population, and any confined population, as it became evident that such information is sorely lacking. The World Health Organization recommended the release of prisoners to ease congestion, a step supported by the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. However, the lack of data and the particular African context pose some questions about the desirability of such a move. The curtailment of prison visits by external persons also did away with independent oversight even in states parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). In the case of South Africa, prison monitors were not listed in the ensuing legislation as part of essential services and thus were excluded from access to prisons. In the case of Mozambique, it was funding being placed on hold by the donor community that prevented the Human Rights Commission from visiting prisons. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted long-standing systemic problems in Africa’s prisons. Yet African states have remained remarkably reluctant to engage in prison reform, despite the fact that poorly managed prisons pose a significant threat to general public health care.
    Jul 06, 2021
  • Journal article: Democratic policing: A conceptual framework
    Democratic policing, as opposed to regime policing, must meet at least three req ... Democratic policing, as opposed to regime policing, must meet at least three requirements: there is democratic accountability of and for the police; the police adhere to the rule of law; and the police behave in a manner that is procedurally fair in service of the public. The article presents a conceptual framework of nine dimensions applicable to different contexts with a view to facilitate policies and practices towards democratic policing. It is argued that the ultimate result being sought is a legitimate police service. If legitimacy is the result, then trust is the outcome preceding it. Legitimacy is dependent on the public’s trust that State power will be used in the public interest. Public trust therefore fulfils an important legitimising function. Levels of trust in the police are driven by the police’s ability and performance record with reference to three outputs: objectivity, empathy and responsivity. The latter three outputs flow from five input variables, namely: knowledge of what works in creating a safer society from a policing perspective; rights-based policing; accountability of the policing (inclusive of transparency); efficiency and effectiveness of resource utilisation; and the police as citizens also entitled to rights and protections. The utility of the conceptual framework lies in providing a coherent and linked-up view to analyse police organisations and support the development of reform proposals.
    Jun 22, 2021
  • Journal article: Modest beginnings, high hopes: The Western Cape Police Ombudsman
    In 2013 the Western Cape legislature passed the Western Cape Community Safety Ac ... In 2013 the Western Cape legislature passed the Western Cape Community Safety Act (WCCSA) to improve monitoring of and oversight over the police. One creation of the WCCSA is the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, which became operational in 2015. This article reviews its history and context, as well as results from its first year. The Police Ombudsman, the only one in the country, must be seen as one of the results of efforts by the opposition-held province to carve out more powers in the narrowly defined constitutional space, and in so doing to exercise more effective oversight and monitoring of police performance, and improve police–community relations. The Ombudsman must also be seen against the backdrop of poor police–community relations in Cape Town and the subsequent establishment of a provincial commission of inquiry into the problem, a move that was opposed by the national government, contesting its constitutionality. Results from the Ombudsman’s first 18 months in operation are modest, but there are promising signs. Nonetheless, the office is small and it did not do itself any favours by not complying with its legally mandated reporting requirements.
    Jun 01, 2018
Opinion-editorials
Submissions
Fact and information sheets
  • Fact Sheet 9: Failing to discipline in SAPS
    Recent media reports showed again how police officials grossly misused their pow ... Recent media reports showed again how police officials grossly misused their power and, against departmental prescripts, used a 'sjambok' to assault a man for apparently not wearing a mask. Such reports are not isolated and have a very direct impact on trust in the police and thus the legitimacy of the police. The core of the problem seems to be twofold (1) that SAPS managers are not enforcing the internal disciplinary code, and (2) the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) very rarely prosecutes police officials, especially for human rights violations. We have updated ACJR Fact sheet 9 (originally published in February 2019) with statistics for the past two financial years and it appears that the situation has worsened. This does not bode well for general trust in the state and specifically in the police. There is little sense in tough talk about law enforcement when the police themselves are not being held accountable and increasingly regarded as hostile to the general public.
    Jan 28, 2021
  • Folha Informativa 15 (Port.): Policiamento Democrático: Um Quadro Conceptual
    Esta folha informativa discute o policiamento democrático como significando: (1 ... Esta folha informativa discute o policiamento democrático como significando: (1) a obediência da Polícia ao Estado de Direito, (2) a responsabilização da Polícia, e (3) a justiça processual por parte da Polícia ao serviço do público. Nove dimensões necessárias ao policiamento democrático são identificadas, sendo que o resultado final pretendido é a confiança pública na Polícia, algo que resulta da sua legitimidade. O quadro conceptual apresentado não se destina apenas a descrever o policiamento democrático, mas também a orientar o planeamento estratégico nas organizações policiais, incluindo a Polícia da República de Moçambique (PRM).
    Jan 24, 2021
  • Fact Sheet 17: The right of prisoners to vote in Africa (Updated)
    This fact-sheet provides a brief update on the right of prisoners to vote in Afr ... This fact-sheet provides a brief update on the right of prisoners to vote in Africa. There have been substantive advances and breakthroughs in the promotion of this right as courts in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and most recently in Uganda have granted prisoners the right to vote. In Mozambique, the Ombudsman has made a recommendation that measures be put in place to allow prisoners to vote in future elections. The enfranchisement of prisoners is a positive step in the promotion of their basic human rights, it is therefore important that countries on the continent that are still lagging behind consider the above examples and follow suit.
    Jul 13, 2020
Presentations
  • Presentation: Accountability and Transparency of the NPA | by Jean Redpath
    Transparency, Accountability, Independence Independence is an essential feat ... Transparency, Accountability, Independence Independence is an essential feature of the proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Independence requires that justice be dispensed without ‘fear, favour or prejudice.’ Independence cannot exist alone: it must co-exist with accountability. Transparency is required to ensure accountability: if no-one is seen to be held accountable for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, how can the public ever have any assurance that decisions are not tainted or improper?
    Mar 18, 2022
  • Presentation: NPA - Measuring Effectiveness and Efficiency | by Jean Redpath
    How effective is the NPA? Is measurement part of the problem? ... How effective is the NPA? Is measurement part of the problem?
    Mar 17, 2022
  • Presentation: NPA - Human Resources | by Lukas Muntingh
    The capacity, knowledge, skills and experience of an organisation's workforce wi ... The capacity, knowledge, skills and experience of an organisation's workforce will determine largely the extent to which it is able to fulfil its mandate. The aim is to problematise this particular issue in a succinct manner with the view to build consensus on understanding the problem properly in order to develop effective short to medium term responses.
    Mar 16, 2022
Multimedia
  • [Infográfico] Policiamento democrático: Um quadro conceptual para que se torne realidade (Portuguese)
    O que é o policiamento democrático? É o mesmo que policiamento numa democraci ... O que é o policiamento democrático? É o mesmo que policiamento numa democracia? Será que sabemos o que podemos esperar da polícia? O que gera confiança na polícia, e o que a corrói? Para investigar estas e outras questões relacionadas, a Africa Criminal Justice Reform (ACJR) fez uma extensa pesquisa sobre o policiamento democrático e desenvolveu um quadro conceptual que define quais são as variáveis de entrada, de saída e o produto para alcançar o resultado final, nomeadamente um serviço policial que goza de legitimidade. Nove variáveis inter-relacionadas e que se reforçam mutuamente distinguem-se para produzir o resultado do policiamento democrático, o que é pelo menos três coisas: a polícia defende e protege o estado de direito; a polícia é responsável, e a polícia trabalha ao serviço do público de uma forma processualmente justa.
    Jun 01, 2022
  • الفقر ليس جريمة - عدم تجريم الفقر والوضع الاجتماعي (Arabic)
    كان مركز إصلاح العدالة الجنائية في أفريقيا ( ... كان مركز إصلاح العدالة الجنائية في أفريقيا (ACJR) منذ إنشائه عضوًا في حملة "الفقر ليس جريمة - عدم تجريم الفقر والوضع الاجتماعي". وظلت الحملة تعمل منذ عدة سنوات واتسع نطاقها لتشمل جميع المناطق الأفريقية. وقد برزت أيضًا شعبية لها في أماكن أخرى من العالم. يعكس مخطط المعلومات البياني هذا أبرز العناوين الرئيسية للحملة وإنجازاتها حتى الوقت الحالي.
    Apr 07, 2022
  • Poverty is not a crime - the decriminalisation of poverty and status (English)
    ACJR has since its inception been a member of the campaign "Poverty is not a cri ... ACJR has since its inception been a member of the campaign "Poverty is not a crime - the decriminalisation of poverty and status". The campaign has been running for a number of years and expanded to all African regions. It has also found traction elsewhere in the world. This infographic reflects on the campaign high-lights and achievements to date.
    Feb 24, 2022
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