Across the world, outdated laws as well as some newer laws are continually used to unfairly target poor and marginalised people because of who they are, rather than what they have done. In parallel, there is an increase in the use of criminal law to suppress activism and quell dissent. This often has a devastating impact on those who are already vulnerable.

In effect, States routinely use the justice system against people for reasons that have little to do with citizen safety, but rather to protect the inherited boundaries of power, wealth, and privilege. This abuse of power has a profound human rights cost, manifesting in discrimination, use of lethal force, torture, excessive imprisonment, inhumane conditions of detention and social, political and economic exclusion.

There is a clear and urgent need to decriminalise laws that treat poverty, status, or activism, as a crime.
The Global Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status is a coalition of organisations from across the world that advocate for the repeal of laws, reform of policies and change in practices, that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism.

Across the world, outdated laws as well as some newer laws are continually used to unfairly target poor and marginalised people because of who they are, rather than what they have done. In parallel, there is an increase in the use of criminal law to suppress activism and quell dissent. This often has a devastating impact on those who are already vulnerable.

In effect, States routinely use the justice system against people for reasons that have little to do with citizen safety, but rather to protect the inherited boundaries of power, wealth, and privilege. This abuse of power has a profound human rights cost, manifesting in discrimination, use of lethal force, torture, excessive imprisonment, inhumane conditions of detention and social, political and economic exclusion.

There is a clear and urgent need to decriminalise laws that treat poverty, status, or activism, as a crime.

The Global Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status is a coalition of organisations from across the world that advocate for the repeal of laws, reform of policies and change in practices, that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism.

themed collections

Over the years, campaign partners have worked collaboratively on specific areas and approaches, such as vagrancy and nuisance-related laws, homelessness, and strategic litigation, compiling collections of resources and strategies that have led to successful law reform. 

recent updates

Prison Insider: Research findings and prevention work in collaboration with the prison administration Suicide and self-harm are major concerns in prisons around the world, with rates often significantly higher among...
Posted: 9 May, 2024
SALC: In the centre of Southern Africa, we find one of the region’s most stable nations – Botswana. Having dominated the top spot in Africa for the respect of civil...
Posted: 8 May, 2024
Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Arnon Nampa dared to call for reform of the Thai monarchy at a 2020 protest. They were arrested, charged, put on trial and are facing...
Posted: 8 May, 2024
Kenya: Majority of remandees are held for minor crimes ranging from being idle, disorderly, littering, begging, urinating in public, and hawking. This is the reason Julie Wayua, [ICJ-Kenya] is advocating...
Posted: 8 May, 2024
Amnesty International: Authorities across East and Southern Africa continued to impose severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom over the past year, said Amnesty International...
Posted: 5 May, 2024
Invisible People: In this compelling documentary, Invisible People traveled to Grants Pass, Oregon, a picturesque city of about 40,000 residents, which is now at the forefront of a significant legal...
Posted: 30 April, 2024
Prison Insider: Research findings and prevention work in collaboration with the prison administration Suicide and self-harm are major concerns in prisons around the world, with rates often significantly higher among...
Posted: 9 May, 2024
SALC: In the centre of Southern Africa, we find one of the region’s most stable nations – Botswana. Having dominated the top spot in Africa for the respect of civil...
Posted: 8 May, 2024
Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Arnon Nampa dared to call for reform of the Thai monarchy at a 2020 protest. They were arrested, charged, put on trial and are facing...
Posted: 8 May, 2024

latest resources

Prison Insider publishes its country profile on prisons in South Africa. This publication is the result of work carried out in collaboration with various people and organizations from civil society. ...
Collecting and publishing statistics about the use and practice of imprisonment is a crucial tool for governments to assess the effectiveness of criminal justice policies. Accurate and updated statistics also ...
Year: 2024
The National Women’s Justice Coalition (NWJC) champions and promotes best practice for working with women in contact with the criminal justice system. This library catalogues a wide range of resources that consolidate ...
Year: 2024
This report presents the findings of an empirical investigation into criminalization of poverty in Haiti. The research, conducted by the Center for research and exchange on security and justice (CRESEJ) ...
Year: 2024

upcoming events

17 June, 2024
to 18 June, 2024
The FEANTSA Forum is our annual flagship event to discuss the latest practices, strategies, research, services, and policies in the fight against...

the stories

Stories gathered by campaign members and other organisations help expose the havoc that the use and abuse of these laws wreak on the lives of the already vulnerable. The campaign uses these stories to communicate to various stakeholders and advocate for systemic change.

All over the world, criminal justice systems misuse overly broad and discriminatory laws that are rooted in the age of empire to criminalize people  for who they are rather than for what they have done and quell dissent. The ‘Residue & Ruin’ photo exhibition, curated by Luvuyo Equiano Nwayose for the Campaign, highlights the impact these laws have on those who fall victim to their abuse.

All over the world, criminal justice systems misuse overly broad and discriminatory laws that are rooted in the age of empire to criminalize people  for who they are rather than for what they have done and quell dissent. The ‘Residue & Ruin’ photo exhibition, curated by Luvuyo Equiano Nwayose for the Campaign, highlights the impact these laws have on those who fall victim to their abuse.

campaign members

Our coalition members are organisations from across the world, working on improving criminal justice systems to ensure that human rights for respected for all. They work collaboratively through legal reform, litigation, advocacy, policy, capacity building and research to make change happen.

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Support our work: fund our member’s activities and advocate for reform.

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The Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status is a coalition of organisations from across the world that advocate for the repeal of laws that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism.

@DecrimPS

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