ACJR Publications

This section contains ACJR publications and those of CSPRI (Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative), its predecessor.
Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee: Overview of cross cutting issues in Alternate Reports on South Africa
Author: Jean
Published: Mar 01, 2016

This overview of cross cutting issues emanates from five alternate thematic reports submitted by civil society organisations (the Alternate Reports) in response to the Initial Report by South Africa (the State Report), to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee during its 116th session. The Alternate Reports which provided the basis for this overview are:  Recognition of Civil and Political Rights: A continued struggle for Transgender and Intersex Persons in South Africa  Shadow Report on Participatory Democracy to South Africa’s State Report and their Responses to the List Of Issues On The International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR)  Thematic Report on Criminal Justice and Human Rights in South Africa  Thematic Report on the Rights of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in South Africa  Thematic Report on Violence Against Women and LGBTI Persons in South Africa

Constructing pre-trial detention indicators for African contexts: Problems and proposals
Author: Jean
Published: Nov 04, 2015

This discussion paper arose from the conundrum faced by a paralegal organisation working in an African country in demonstrating both that pre-trial detention is a problem in that country, and that their work has an impact on the problem. The indicators currently employed by states and organisations relating to pre-trial detention have a range of shortcomings in the African context. These shortcomings need to be understood in interpreting indicator values. Indicators should be adjusted, and additional indicators should be incorporated into data collection practice in order to provide a more complete and accurate picture of pre-trial detention in Africa. This paper is intended as a starting point for a broader discussion of the pitfalls and possibilities for the development of indicators in relation to pre-trial detention in Africa

Constructing pre-trial detention indicators for African contexts: Problems and proposals
Author: Jean
Published: Nov 04, 2015

This discussion paper arose from the conundrum faced by a paralegal organisation working in an African country in demonstrating both that pre-trial detention is a problem in that country, and that their work has an impact on the problem. The indicators currently employed by states and organisations relating to pre-trial detention have a range of shortcomings in the African context. These shortcomings need to be understood in interpreting indicator values. Indicators should be adjusted, and additional indicators should be incorporated into data collection practice in order to provide a more complete and accurate picture of pre-trial detention in Africa. This paper is intended as a starting point for a broader discussion of the pitfalls and possibilities for the development of indicators in relation to pre-trial detention in Africa

Arrested in Africa: An exploration of the issues
Author: Jean
Published: Nov 01, 2015

Recent research and advocacy efforts have drawn attention to the excessive use of and prolonged pre-trial detention in Africa. At any given moment there are roughly 1 million people in Africa’s prisons. Far more move through prisons each year. Their stay in prison, regardless of duration, starts with being arrested. Substantially more people are arrested than those who end up in prison for pre-trial detention. Pre-trial detention figures are thus a poor indicator of contact with the criminal justice system. The purpose of arrest and subsequent detention of a suspect is essentially to ensure the attendance of the person in court or for another just cause. The police’s powers of arrest are, in theory, curtailed to the extent that the arresting officer must be able to provide reasons for the arrest and continued police detention. Police officials have considerable discretion in executing arrests, especially when arresting without a warrant. This exploratory report focuses on arresting without a warrant and starts off with setting out the legal requirements in this regard by way of a case study. In order to understand current arrest practices, the report provides a brief description of the history of policing in Africa and concludes that much of what was established by the colonial powers has remained intact, emphasising high arrest rates, a social disciplinarian mode of policing, supported by myriad petty offences that justify arrest without a warrant. This combination enables widespread corruption and results in negative perceptions of the police. The report further argues that given the wide discretionary powers of the police to arrest without a warrant, it follows that not all people are at an equal risk of arrest, but rather that it is the poor, powerless and out-groups that are at a higher risk of arrest based on non-judicial factors. The report concludes with a number of recommendations calling for further research, decriminalisation of certain offences and restructuring of the police in African countries.

Submission to South Africa's Parliament - 2015 strategic planning session
Author: Gwen
Published: Sep 21, 2015

This submission to the South African parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services' strategic planning session addresses the issues of long periods of pre-trial detention, low prosecution rates, the independence of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, human rights abuses in prison, sentencing reform and effective prison oversight.

Journal Article: Unconscionable and irrational: SAPS human resource allocation
Author: Jean
Published: Sep 01, 2015

The Khayelitsha Commission revealed that areas that are predominantly populated by people who are poor and black are systematically allocated only a small fraction of the average per capita allocation of police personnel in the Western Cape. These areas also suffer among the highest rates of murder and serious violent crime in the province. The allocation of human resources to policing impinges on various constitutional rights. Given the inequity and irrationality apparent in the allocation of police personnel, the Khayelitsha Commission recommended that this method be urgently revised. This article reviews the evidence heard on the allocations and the method currently used to allocate police personnel, suggests an alternative method, and calls on the government to heed the recommendation of the Khayelitsha Commission that the state urgently revise its method of allocation of policing resources.

Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services
Author: Jean
Published: Aug 18, 2015

This submission deals with South Africa’s performance in relation to, and compliance with, international standards with reference to offender management, offender rehabilitation and independent monitoring, as was requested by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services (the Portfolio Committee).

Pocket Guide to Arrest and Detention in Malawi
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 31, 2015

This guide is for anyone who needs a quick reference to the laws around arrest and detention in Malawi. This may include police, court clerks, prosecutors, magistrates, paralegals and detainees. First there is an orientation to the criminal justice system and a diagram and summary of what happens in Malawi around arrest and detention, page 1. The main part of the book focuses on what the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code says. It starts with when and how arrest can happen and possibilities for release at the police station, page 4. This is followed by a section on how things happen in court and how people can be released by the court, page 12. There are special sections on the arrest and release of children, pages 7 and 11. There is also a list of children’s offences that are considered serious, see page 34, and there is a section on the maximum times allowed for the commencement and duration of trial, page 16. The rights of every person in Malawi, as well as the specific rights of those who have been arrested and detained are described, pages 18 - 21. The meanings of legal words can be found in the glossary near the back, page 22. At the very back is a long list of all the offences for which someone can be arrested in Malawi. These offences are divided into those that need a warrant for arrest, and those that do not, page 26

Fact Sheets
  • 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
  • Fact Sheet 25: Arrest without a warrant in Malawi
    This fact sheet deals with arrest without a warrant in Malawi. Currently in Mala ... This fact sheet deals with arrest without a warrant in Malawi. Currently in Malawi there remain laws on the statutes that have not been tested against constitutional requirements resulting in all likelihood in arrests that are not compliant with the Constitution.
    May 12, 2020
  • Fact Sheet 24: Arrest without a warrant in Kenya
    This fact sheet focuses on arrest without a warrant in Kenya. Currently in Kenya ... This fact sheet focuses on arrest without a warrant in Kenya. Currently in Kenya the situation has been complicated by the legislative powers granted to the counties and some have used this opportunity to expand policing powers.
    May 12, 2020
Reports & Articles
  • Alternativas à prisão em Moçambique: A implementação do trabalho socialmente útil
    Em Dezembro de 2020 entrarão em vigor em Moçambique o Código Penal revisto, o ... Em Dezembro de 2020 entrarão em vigor em Moçambique o Código Penal revisto, o novo Código de Processo Penal e o Código de Execução das Penas. Embora serão introduzidas mudanças substanciais relacionadas com as alternativas à prisão e especificamente ao trabalho socialmente útil (TSU), este relatório avalia a implementação do TSU em Moçambique entre 2015 e 2019. Examina o seu uso pelos tribunais e a implementação pelo Serviço Nacional Penitenciário (SERNAP). As conclusões apontam para vários problemas de implementação, como o seu uso pouco frequente pelos tribunais, bem como desafios na monitoria dos infractores pelo Serviço de Penas Alternativas à Pena de Prisão (SPAPP). Vários problemas sistémicos foram encontrados, como falta de gestão, directrizes processuais e formações e falta de recursos materiais e financeiros necessários para a implementação efectiva do TSU. Independentemente de uma nova estrutura legal, é evidente que será necessário retirar lições valiosas do período em análise. Nas conclusões, o relatório aponta algumas recomendações para abordar as deficiências.
    Oct 07, 2020
  • Alternatives to imprisonment in Mozambique: The implementation of community service orders
    In December 2020 a revised Penal Code and new Criminal Procedure Code and Code o ... In December 2020 a revised Penal Code and new Criminal Procedure Code and Code on the Implementation of Penalties will enter into force in Mozambique. While substantial changes related to alternatives to imprisonment and specifically to community service will be introduced, this report assesses the implementation of community service orders (CSO) in Mozambique between 2015 and 2019. It examines its use by the courts and implementation by the Department for Corrections. The findings point to several implementation problems, such as its infrequent if not rare use by the courts as well as challenges in monitoring offenders by the Service for Alternatives to Imprisonment. A number of systemic problems were found, such as the lack of management, procedural guidelines, and training; understaffing, and a serious lack of material and financial resources necessary for the effective implementation of CSO. Regardless of a new legal framework, it is submitted that valuable lessons need to be taken from the period under review. Based on the findings, the report concludes with recommendations to address the shortcomings.
    Oct 07, 2020
  • Recommendations for reform of the National Prosecuting Authority
    Following from previous work, this report looks at seven areas of reform for the ... Following from previous work, this report looks at seven areas of reform for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). By its own admission the NPA is facing a long list of challenges, internally and externally. This report proposes seven areas of reform that can over the short to medium term, if followed, make a substantial and constructive contribution to rebuilding trust in the NPA. The seven areas are: • the appointment of the NDPP and other senior officials • the dismissal of the NDPP • the prosecution policy directives • referrals from other agencies • informal mediation • structuring the clusters of the NPA • general oversight. An unavoidable conclusion is that law reform is needed since the current legal framework enabled the hollowing-out and misuse of the NPA.
    Aug 21, 2020
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