All across the world, outdated laws as well as some newer laws are continually used to unfairly target poor and marginalised people because of who they are, rather than what they have done.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 a 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 and inhumane conditions of detention.

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

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.

All across the world, outdated laws as well as some newer laws are continually used to unfairly target poor and marginalised people because of who they are, rather than what they have done.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 a 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 and inhumane conditions of detention.

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

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.

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

Amnesty International: Ethiopian authorities have used the state of emergency to silence peaceful dissent by arbitrarily detaining prominent politicians critical of the government and journalists, Amnesty International said today. On...
Posted: 27 February, 2024
Mohamed Wa Baile claims to have been subjected to ethnic profiling in 2015, when he was stopped by police officers in a train station in Zurich and told to identify...
Posted: 27 February, 2024
Moving building towards a just Africa On 30th November to 2nd December 2023, campaign partner, Clean Start Africa organized The Beyond the Bars Conference. The Beyond the Bars conference is...
Posted: 2 February, 2024
The Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status welcomes the adoption of the first-ever resolution on access to justice for all by the United Nations General Assembly. This resolution supports the advancement of...
Posted: 31 January, 2024
SALC: Despite significant successes by activists, the global anti-rights movement has swung the pendulum in favour of the increased use of the law and criminal justice system to criminalize and...
Posted: 18 December, 2023
Amnesty International: Responding to the landmark verdict on 5 December on the killing of Nabaraj BK and five others by the West Rukum District Court in Nepal, convicting 26 individuals...
Posted: 8 December, 2023
Amnesty International: Ethiopian authorities have used the state of emergency to silence peaceful dissent by arbitrarily detaining prominent politicians critical of the government and journalists, Amnesty International said today. On...
Posted: 27 February, 2024
Mohamed Wa Baile claims to have been subjected to ethnic profiling in 2015, when he was stopped by police officers in a train station in Zurich and told to identify...
Posted: 27 February, 2024
Moving building towards a just Africa On 30th November to 2nd December 2023, campaign partner, Clean Start Africa organized The Beyond the Bars Conference. The Beyond the Bars conference is...
Posted: 2 February, 2024

latest resources

The Commission on Homelessness and Poverty’s resource clearinghouse Poverty and homelessness in the United States are largely outgrowths of institutionalized racism. Inequity in housing, education, healthcare and wealth creation is ...
Year: 2022
Abstract: Court-related fines and fees are widely levied on criminal defendants who are frequently poor and have little capacity to pay. Such financial obligations may produce a criminalization of poverty, ...
Year: 2022
Over the span of 2021, local Tennessee organizers from Free Hearts surveyed over 500 people to learn about how overcriminalization affected their lives and their communities. This narrative experience explores ...
Year: 2023
Fees & Fines Justice Center: As 2024 sessions start to rev up, now is the time for fines and fees reform advocates to take stock of the vast and wide-reaching number ...
Year: 2024

upcoming events

22 May, 2024
to 25 May, 2024
PALU: Brace yourselves for the legal extravaganza of the year! The 14th Annual Conference is BACK and ready to unite...
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.

Join our campaign

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.

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