Reports & Articles

Journal article: The SocioEconomic Impact of Pretrial Detention in Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia
Author: Jean
Published: Oct 04, 2017

The presumed link between the rule of law and development suggests that an operational justice system is key to development. The research sought to understand and quantify how the decision to detain an accused person affects his or her socio-economic situation. Data was collected in Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia. The findings suggest that the use of the coercive power of the state exercised through the deprivation of an individual’s liberty has serious socio-economic consequences. While detention pending trial is justifiable sometimes, we argue that it is over-used, frequently resulting in excessively long detention. The deprivation of liberty interferes with the ability of individuals to be agents of their own development, infringing on socio-economic rights of individuals and their dependents. States can justify such infringements only if their coercive power is used within the ambit of democratic and rights-respecting laws complying with human rights standards.

An Assessment of the National Prosecuting Authority - A Controversial Past and Recommendations for the Future
Author: Lukas
Published: May 22, 2017

Twenty years into democracy, the independence of the NPA, in particular the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), has become a highly contested and politicised issue. The Constitutional Court has noted that ‘[t]he constitutional obligation upon the State to prosecute those offences which threaten or infringe the rights of citizens is of central importance in our constitutional framework’. This report focuses on the substantive problems and dilemmas facing the NPA. In the discussion that follows the major challenges that the NPA is facing and have faced are set out. The report unpacks these and presents possible solutions and recommendations.

Journal Article: Ten years after the Jali Commission: The state of South Africa's prisons
Author: Lukas
Published: Dec 01, 2016

Ten years have lapsed since the Jali Commission’s final report became publicly available, and it is therefore an opportune time to assess the state of South Africa’s prison system. The Jali Commission was appointed when it became clear that the state had lost control of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). A decade on, some notable advances have been made in regaining control, and addressing corruption and maladministration. However, serious and persistent challenges remain. These are explored in this article, with a particular focus on policy development, the performance of the DCS against set targets, governance and human rights violations. In all four of these areas substantial shortcomings remain. Impunity for human rights violations is perhaps the most critical challenge, as the DCS has been reluctant to acknowledge the scale of this problem or to seriously address it.

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.

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.

Women in Pre-trial Detention in Africa
Author: Marilize Ackermann
Published: Nov 07, 2014

This is a publication of of the project 'Promoting Pre-trial Detention in Africa' (PPJA). The objective of this review is to explore existing literature in respect of the reasons for female remand detention in Africa and the challenges women experience in prison. The biggest challenge to compiling this review was the lack of centralised and comprehensive statistics. The subject is under-researched and statistics referred to represent snapshot data obtained either from the database of the International Centre for Prison Studies or from various ad hoc reports. Literature pertaining to South Africa was available, but authoritative studies from less developed countries do not exist, or were last undertaken as long ago as the 1980s. The failure of states to allocate resources to female detainees and the absence of consistent and clear policies and legislation around the issues they commonly encounter suggest a lack of awareness or a lack of political will to improve the situation.

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