ACJR Publications

This section contains ACJR publications and those of CSPRI (Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative), its predecessor.
Research Reports
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
Multimedia
  • Julius Osega Memorial Lecture 2021
    On 16 July 2021, the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance an ... On 16 July 2021, the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape, and the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, hosted the Julius Osega Memorial Lecture. The lecture was themed "Poverty is not a crime - Undoing colonial criminal justice” and was delivered by Ms. Anneke Meerkotter, Executive Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Commissioner Chikondi Chijozi of the Malawi Human Rights Commission.
    Jul 26, 2021
  • South Africa's NPA: accountability, trust and public interest
    Three key concepts are associated with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) ... Three key concepts are associated with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and its relation to the public, namely accountability, public interest and trust. It is suggested that for the NPA to be regarded as a legitimate institution it needs to enjoy trust and in order to enjoy such trust, it needs to be seen and perceived to act in the public interest in an accountable manner.
    Jul 22, 2020
  • The performance of South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority
    This infographic considers the performance of the National Prosecuting Authority ... This infographic considers the performance of the National Prosecuting Authority since inception.
    Jul 21, 2020
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