New Research Report: Criminal justice, human rights and COVID-19 - a comparative study of measures taken in five African countries - Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia

This report covers four cross-cutting topics based on a survey undertaken of five African countries (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia) By L Muntingh, J Mangwanda, K Petersen & J Redpath

The spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent state responses to the virus have had significant consequences for citizens in southern and east Africa where ACJR is active.  States responded differently, mainly based on what their constitutions and laws provide, but also shaped by the political and socio-economic realities of the situation. The impact was felt in socio-economic terms as well as in the criminal justice system, where criminal justice processes were placed in a holding pattern, but we also saw some over-eager restrictions enforcement.

The COVID-19 lock-downs presented a unique opportunity to investigate and analyse criminal justice systems and their performance under unusual circumstances that is not a state of war or large-scale political instability. It is because the right to liberty is fundamentally affected by a lock-down that it requires closer scrutiny on how states implemented it. Lock-downs also result in the widespread criminalising of behaviour that is otherwise not a crime and this has significant implications for our understanding of crime, but also begs the question whether criminalisation (and arrest) is really an appropriate response to a public health crisis.

This report covers four cross-cutting topics based on a survey undertaken of five African countries (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia):

  • surveying the measures taken to respond to COVID-19;
  • litigation and responses to lockdown measures;
  • the impact on civil and political rights, and
  • the impact on detention monitoring and oversight mechanisms.

 

The main report can be found here

 

The country reports can be found here:

Kenya,

Malawi,

Mozambique,

South Africa and

Zambia

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