Advisory opinion of the Court requesting the abrogation of vagrancy laws

A majority of countries in Africa¹ have some type of “vagrancy laws”, meaning laws which consider people that are or are perceived to be poor, homeless or unemployed as criminals. Examples are laws against “vagrants” or “vagabonds” defined as people who do not have a fixed home or livelihood, laws against “suspected person or reputed thief who has no visible means of substance and cannot give a good account of themselves”, or laws forbidding people of “being an idle and disorderly person”.

In 2018, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), a Pan-African lawyers’ association, decided to go to the African Court to ask for its opinion with regards to the compatibility of these laws with African human rights law. On 4 December 2020, the African Court issued a comprehensive advisory opinion demonstrating that these laws, by their nature and their application, violate many rights of the people punished by them.

Read full article: Advisory opinion of the Court requesting the abrogation of vagrancy laws

Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash

26 June, 2023
Type of Update:
In the Courts
Updates from our Partners
Human Rights
Petty Offences
Pre-trial Detention
Use of Public Spaces
Campaign Partners:
Amnesty International
Pan African Lawyers Union

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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