Campaign Digest: September 2023

The Stellenbosch Convening Report is here!

Last September, representatives from 40 organisations from over 30 countries, gathered in Stellenbosch, South Africa, for the Campaign’s Annual Convening to explore the theme: “Decriminalising Status and Activism”. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for Campaign members to learn lessons from successful litigation and advocacy approaches; explore emerging themes around the criminalization of status and activism; and develop trans-regional, multi-national and national litigation and advocacy strategies. The report is a fascinating read, capturing the richness of the discussion and demonstrating the resonance of the issue across multiple jurisdictions and communities across the globe.

Campaign members demand that women rights forums include criminalised women

An Open Letter was sent to the organisers of Women Deliver and the Generation Equality Forum calling for all High-Level Forums on women’s rights to be inclusive of all women, particularly criminalised, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. The letter, signed by over 200 organisations, from across the world, including members of this Campaign, is in response to the exclusion of current and former female prisoners from discussions on women’s rights. Since 2000, the rate at which women and girls are being incarcerated has grown by almost 60%, tripling that of males. Evidence shows that women’s detention is closely linked to sexual- and gender-based violence, poverty, and vague, discriminatory laws that criminalize or negatively inflect justice outcomes for them based on their gender rather than what they may have done.

Savings Law Clause in the Caribbean

The Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), the Campaign’s regional focal point, is planning to launch a legal challenge to the Savings Law Clause in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Many constitutions in the anglophone Caribbean (e.g., Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, among others) contain a clause to the effect that colonial laws are to be preserved and effectively insulated from constitutional challenge unless and until they are amended by legislation. Thus, if a law existed prior to the date of independence, that law remains valid even if it is in breach of constitutional safeguards or human rights standards. A range of colonial-era offences that criminalize status and activism remain in force across the region as a result. CCHR’s effort will begin with research and comparative analysis across multiple countries to build the legal arguments, potentially culminating in the filing of a case before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). In support of this, CCHR has secured the commitment of attorneys from Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Global Campaign Coordinating Committee (GCCC) meets to develop the Campaign’s Strategic Priorities

In July 2023, members of the newly established GCCC met in Nairobi over 3 days to lay out strategic priorities for the next two years of the Global Campaign. The session enumerated the Campaign’s successes before identifying three strategic priorities – coalition-building; law reform and changing practice – to guide efforts and activities over the next two years. Join us for the upcoming webinar: ‘Tackling a Global Challenge: Strategic Priorities for the Global Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status‘ on Thursday, November 9th, 2023 at 12h30-14h30 UTC.

Strategic litigation and law reform

Recent hearings & events

Eswatini: Supreme Court hears State’s appeal on terrorism and sedition laws: On 12 June 2023, the Supreme Court heard the case of The Prime Minister of Eswatini & Others v Maseko and Others. The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) supported Eswatini political activists and human rights defenders as they returned to court in a decade-old challenge to the country’s sedition offence and terrorism laws. The state appealed the 2016 High Court judgment which declared some provisions of these laws unconstitutional. Pending the outcome of the appeal, the State continues to prosecute people under these laws.

Malawi: In June 2023, the High Court of Malawi granted leave for judicial review to challenge the Lilongwe by-laws evicting informal traders from plying their trade on the streets and confiscating their goods, a practice that criminalizes poverty, preventing people from carrying out life-sustaining activities in public places. In that same month, the High Court heard an application for an interim order (injunction) restricting the City Council from evicting informal traders from the streets without allocating them a place of business, and from confiscating their goods.

Uganda: SALC notes that the Uganda Law Revision (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2023, has repealed some of the rogue and vagabond, sedition, and false news offences in its Penal Code. Uganda further repealed the offence of offensive communication in the Computer Misuse Act. This development is an important win for the Global Campaign under its newest work stream that seeks to challenge the criminalization of activism and dissent. Uganda joins Malawi, which repealed its sedition offence in February 2023.

United States: Invisible People highlights how the 9th Circuit’s ruling that cities cannot force unhoused people off the streets if they do not have adequate shelter options survived another legal challenge. The ruling, in  Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, speaks to another legal decision issued in February 2021, Martin v. Boise, which set forth a series of important legal protections for unhoused people. It prohibits local police departments from citing or arresting unhoused people for sleeping outdoors. The ruling has survived numerous legal challenges from cities and groups that argue that it prevents them from addressing the growing homelessness crisis. Lessons from this will have significant transregional applicability given the widespread criminalization of homelessness across the world.

Zimbabwe: Challenging criminalisation of marijuana possession for personal use: On 12 June 2023, the High Court heard a challenge to sections 156 and 155 of the Criminal Law Act and sections 3 and 6 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which criminalise the private use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults.

Upcoming Hearings

ECOWAS Court of Justice: Challenging the use of vagrancy laws: A case before the ECOWAS Court challenging Nigeria’s use of vagrancy laws. The hearing is set for 26 October 2023.

Botswana: Challenging the false news offence: A journalist is challenging the Penal Code offence of publishing alarming information. The hearing is scheduled for 5 October 2023.

Challenging the Use of the Cyber Crimes Act: On 6 December 2023, the High Court will hear a challenge to the attempted prosecution of an activist and whistle-blower under the Cyber Crimes Act.

Kenya: Challenging the criminalisation of attempted suicide: The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and other organisations are challenging section 226 of the Penal Code, which criminalises attempted suicide under an antiquated colonial-era law. The submissions will be heard on 4 October 2023. A global webinar for judges on the offence of attempted suicide is scheduled for World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2023.

Malawi: Challenging the refusal to register an LGBTIQ+ organisation: A full bench of the High Court is due to hear a review of the decision to refuse registration of an NGO that advocates for LGBTIQ+ rights. The hearing is scheduled for 2 to 4 October 2023.

Uganda: Challenging the Anti-Homosexuality Act: In May 2023, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum and other organisations and individuals filed petitions challenging the provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, including the criminalisation of organisations that “promote homosexuality” with sentences of up to 20 years and deregistration of organisations. An initial status hearing is set for October 2023.

South Africa: Challenging the criminalisation of homelessness in Cape Town: On 31 October to 2 November 2023, the Western Cape High Court, sitting as both the High Court and Equality Court, will hear a challenge to Cape Town municipal by-laws that criminalise street-based homeless people.


In 2024, OHCHR’s  Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and  Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing will present a joint report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to take stock of efforts made to decriminalize poverty or homeless-related offences. States, local Governments, UN agencies, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, experts, and civil society organizations were invited to make submissions to inform this report. In addition to the Campaign’s own submission, several Campaign members made submissions including:

The National Homelessness Law Center and Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law submitted a Shadow Report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the United States’ Review of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights focused on the criminalisation of homelessness. Endorsed by MCare, Disability Rights Advocates, SREHUP, Beldock Levine & Hoffman, the submission calls on the U.S. to abolish the criminalization of homelessness, including involuntary commitment of people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, and to reallocate funding towards evidenced-based solutions such as #HousingFirst.

In May 2023, ACJR made a written and oral submission to the South African parliament regarding The Judicial Matters Amendment Bill [B7-2023] in South Africa. The Bill provides the Minister the authority to decriminalise certain minor offences and expunge existing criminal records of persons who have committed “such offences.” This submission focused on the expungement of admission of guilt (AOG) fines for specific offences and COVID-19 related offences. Whilst commendable, the Bill falls short in laying out the criteria needed to determine whether an offence may be decriminalised and/or expunged. The Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is currently under consideration by the National Council of Provinces prior to Presidential signature. It is expected that as a result, some 400,000 convictions will be expunged, decreasing stigma and clearing obstacles that poor or otherwise marginalized people experience in, for example securing employment or accessing social benefits because of a criminal record.

New Partners

Our campaign now has over 65 confirmed member organisations – meet the latest ones:

AJUDSS (United Youth Association for Healthy Socio-Cultural Development) is a non-profit philanthropic NGO, based in Menongue, Angola. Working mainly with communities in Angola, the organization’s mission is to promote social ethics and human development in equity to sustain a fair society, united in diversity, safe and sustainable.

Part of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies sits at the crossroads of research, policy, human rights practice and international relations. Its vision is that people around the world, including throughout the modern Commonwealth, live in societies grounded in democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) drives a global movement to end street homelessness. Founded in 2014, IGH is the first organization to focus on homelessness as a global phenomenon with an emphasis on those who are living on the street or in emergency shelters. It is a partnership between DePaul University (Chicago, USA), and Depaul International (London, UK), which provides direct services for people experiencing homelessness in the UK, Ireland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Croatia, USA, and France.
Caribbean Centre for Human Rights is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, dedicated to the promotion, protection, and defense of human rights in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. CCHR’s work focuses on advancing the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees, prison reform, criminal justice reform and police use of force towards defending human rights in the region.

(RE)Claim is a French-based organization founded in 2022 that uses legal tools and research to contribute to ending systemic discrimination. (RE)Claim is conducting research, public education and advocacy on issues related to discriminatory policing and discriminatory fining practices and supporting a class action focused on discriminatory identity checks. It also focuses on issues relating to access to education, political participation and a strong civil society.

Created in 2005, the West African Network of Human Rights Defenders covers Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea Bissau. The organization’s Secretariat is based in Lomé, Togo. ROADDH is a member of the steering committee of the NGO forum as a prelude to the sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Human Rights Council Network, a network of NGOs which carry out advocacy actions with the Council of Human Rights of the United Nations.

Centro Internazionale per la Promozione dell’Educazione e lo Sviluppo (CEIPES) is an International non-profit association founded in Palermo (Italy) in 2007. Its vision is to empower people, organisations, and communities by developing potential through the promotion of innovation, education, work, and experience.

SUARAM is an independent and human rights organisation based in Malaysia. They specialize in strengthening civil and political rights such as educational programs and training on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; right to a fair trial; freedom from torture, extra-judicial killings and cruel punishment; public accountability and genuine democracy-building.

Women Beyond Walls is a movement-building platform, amplifying voices to end the over-incarceration and over-criminalisation of women worldwide. They aim to build collective power and resource resistance to shape political advocacy and agendas. A space to bringing together women with lived experience, lawyers, activists, academics, philanthropists, criminal justice professionals, feminists and allies.

Partner Updates

Poverty and Status

134 NGOs sign collective statement urging the international community to act on UN human rights chief’s ground-breaking call for systemic drug policy reform: On 20 September, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights launched a historical report denouncing the failure of punitive drug policies and the global ‘war on drugs’. The report calls for a new approach based on health and human rights, including through decriminalisation and the responsible regulation of drugs – a first for a UN body! To implement the recommendations laid down by the High Commissioner, 130+ community-led and civil society organisations, including Campaign partners, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), Amnesty International, Open Society Foundations (OSF), and Penal Reform International (PRI), signed a statement calling on the international community to reform and rebalance the global drug control regime, and national drug laws and policies. To learn more about the report’s significance, check out this advocacy note and this blog post by IDPC’s Executive Director, Ann Fordham.

Human Rights Council adopts a Resolution on violence against women and girls in detention: A resolution tabled by Canada was adopted at the Human Rights Council in July 2023 on ‘Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls in criminal justice detention’. Civil society, including PRI, supported Canada with the drafting of the text. The Resolution provides an important step in advancing our Campaign goal of eradicating gender-based criminalization.

In Malawi, children connected to the streets have filed a complaint at the Independent Complaints Commission against the ongoing abuse they experience at the hands of police. In this short video, Street Children’s Cry, these children speak to their lived experience, despite, local police officials claiming no reports of police brutality have been received.

Vagrancy Laws: Discrimination based on poverty and status: On 31st May 2023, 28 men were arrested in Harare CBD under the country’s vagrancy laws. SALC raises the question of why these archaic colonial-era laws still exist and are still being enforced. At least 22 African countries still have vagrancy laws, and Zimbabwe is among many that continue to actively enforce them, disproportionally impacting poor and otherwise marginalized people and communities.


In August 2023, Amnesty International launched #MyOpinionIsNotaCrime, a new campaign that calls on the Lebanese Parliament to abolish all laws that criminalize insult and defamation. The new campaign comes amid a spate of prosecutions of those critical of political, security, judicial and religious figures in the country, with thousands targeted by criminal investigations since 2015.

CSOs call for repeal of Malaysia’s Sedition Act: Several organizations including Campaign partner Suaram sent a letter to Malaysia’s Home Affairs Minister and Minister of Law urging the government to repeal the archaic colonial-era Sedition Act, which effectively criminalizes expression, in advance of the hearing of Wan Ji, an Islamic preacher convicted under this law in 2018. The letter was sent ahead of a now-postponed hearing before the Court of Appeal which sought to challenge the law’s constitutionality. Watch the video summary of the issue: ‘Malaysia’s Broken Promises on Sedition

Quash conviction and release rights defenders mobilised against torture: 72 organisations, including Campaign partners, Amnesty International and FIACAT, are calling for Bangladesh authorities to immediately release human rights defenders Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, quash their convictions, and end all reprisals against them for their legitimate human rights work. Khan and Elan were sentenced by the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka to two years in prison and a 10,000 Bangladeshi Taka fine each in retaliation for their work documenting human rights violations in Bangladesh.

Authorities across the world are increasingly resorting to unlawful use of force and repressive legislation to crush protests. As part of its Protect the Protest campaign, Amnesty International has launched an interactive digital map that charts the numerous human rights violations perpetrated against protesters around the world and exposes the shocking rise in the criminalization of protesters and the repression of dissent by states across the globe.

“Patriotic Bill” is a threat to democracy and the future of Zimbabwe: The recent passing of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Amendment Bill, also known as the “Patriotic Bill”, by the lower house of Zimbabwe’s parliament, came months before Zimbabwe’s elections on 23 August 2023. Campaign partner SALC argues that the suggested amendment by the Government aims to silence its citizens, civil society, and political opposition to maintain the status quo. The current version of the Bill introduces section 22A to the Criminal Law Act, under which it criminalises “willfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”.

A society behind bars: the effects of Algeria’s widespread crackdown on human rights: According to local watchdog groups in Algeria, over 200 people remain detained in prisons for expressing dissent, often sentenced under problematic articles in the Penal Code such as “harming” the national security, “undermining national unity”, “offending” public officials, “incitement” to unarmed gatherings, spreading fake news, and terrorism. Amnesty International interviewed former detainees as well as the families and lawyers of those who remain behind bars. The individual stories highlighted here underscore the resulting suffering people have endured or continue to endure at the hands of the Algerian authorities.

ICJ and other human rights experts drew attention to Sri Lanka’s recently gazetted ‘Online Safety Bill’ intended to dramatically regulate the content of online communication, including by the general public. The ICJ considers that several provisions of the bill would serve to undermine the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, including freedom of information and expression. Of particular concern are provisions related to the setting up, appointment and functions of an Online Safety Commission and other experts, the vague and overbroad wording of conduct designated as punishable offences and unnecessary and disproportionate punitive sanctions.

Criminal Justice Systems

Stakeholders review Model State Law on Correctional Service in Nigeria: The proposed Model Law is an initiative of Campaign partner PRAWA, in partnership with the Nigerian Correctional Service, Ministry of Interior and Federal Ministry of Justice. Aimed at promoting effective implementation of corrections administration at the state level, the Model State Law provides guidance to states of Nigeria’s federation to maintain standards and to ensure the effective reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of offenders back into society.


Poverty and detention: are legal frameworks adequate? Pre-trial detention contributes significantly to prison overcrowding and causes a range of harm to individuals, their families, and society. But what is driving its use? In PRI’s blog, Madhurima Dhanuka from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) presents the findings of a recent report and explores the disproportionate impact of pre-trial detention on poor and marginalised communities in South Asia.

Everyday policing is casteist: The systemic oppression of marginalised communities by the criminal justice system is poorly understood and rarely questioned. In 1871, the British colonial government introduced the Criminal Tribes Act in India, a move that labelled several hundred nomadic tribes as ‘criminals by birth’. While the act was repealed by the Indian government in 1952, these criminalised tribes—known as denotified tribes (DNTs) or Vimukta communities—remain oppressed and marginalised to this day. Nikita Sonavane from CJ-PAP draws our attention to how this is changing.

Restorative, teen-administered juvenile justice past and present: While 261,200 children are estimated to be in detention globally, child-specific justice legislation, child-friendly courts and specialised procedures continue to divert children away from the criminal justice system and contribute to a decrease in the number of children in prison in many countries. In this PRI blog post, Milana Carse examines teen courts in the US as a model of diversion for teenagers run by other teenagers.

The Caught in the Spiral series compiled by Campaign partner Prison Insider explores the experiences of various civil society organisations, formerly incarcerated people, researchers and policymakers challenging the criminalisation of poverty, status or activism. The latest issues include:

In the News

United Kingdom: Black remand prisoners held 70% longer than white counterparts in England and Wales: Data from Fair Trials also shows black defendants more likely to be held in prison – yet more likely to be acquitted. Black defendants spend on average more than 70% longer in prison awaiting trial and sentencing in England and Wales than their white counterparts, according to new data revealing racial disparities at the heart of the criminal justice system.

Global: Rejecting the colonial legacy of discriminatory laws

Global: ‘It’s a huge sign of progress’: the battle to decriminalise suicide

Africa: Mental health conference pushes for the decriminalisation of suicide

Eswatini: Lawyers live in fear as Swazi state intensifies crackdown on activists

Historic Swazi court judgment striking down parts of sedition and terrorism laws is under threat

Kenya: Let’s reform our criminal justice system and spare petty offenders

Petty offences convicts face repercussions long after serving sentences

India: BNS Bill introduced by Amit Shah provides for community service as punishment for petty offences

Nigeria: Innocent Nigerians languishing in prison for petty crimes – Group

Activists advocate decriminalisation of minor offences to decongest prisons

South Africa: South Africa: ‘Tough Blow’ for Sex Workers As Decrim Bill Delayed

Thailand: Drop ‘insulting the monarchy’ charge against child protester involved in mock fashion show

Uganda: How we got Uganda to strike out a colonial law criminalising poor people

United States: Illinois Supreme Court rules in favor of ending the state’s cash bail system

NYPD Arrest Advocates in Latest New York City Homeless Encampment Sweep

Zimbabwe: “Patriot Bill” threat to Zimbabwean journalists two months before elections

Past events

Ongoing series on ‘Sub-national governance and the criminalisation of poverty and status’:  ACJR and partners organised two webinars as part of an ongoing series. In June 2023, the second webinar was held in collaboration with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) on ‘The Right to Public Spaces and Informal Work: Key considerations for Law & Policy-Making’. The discussants defined the problem regarding public spaces and informal work and discussed the impact of laws and policies on people working in the informal economy and the rights-based protections that should be afforded to them. In August 2023, a third webinar was held, entitled ‘Sub-national governance, law enforcement and oversight in Five African countries’  highlighting key issues relating to sub-national law enforcement in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, including the limited training provided to local law enforcement by local governments, the absence of effective oversight and monitoring of these local agencies, and the harsh and brutal enforcement of by-laws particularly on those living and working on the streets.

Dialogue on Homelessness and Law Enforcement: The South African Human Rights Commission held a public national dialogue on homelessness and law enforcement from 6-7 September 2023. The event included participation from various South African municipalities (as homelessness is criminalised through municipal by-laws), other state actors and civil society organisations. The purpose of the event was to discuss the adverse impact of by-laws and policies on homelessness and people who are homeless from a law enforcement perspective. Louise Edwards from Campaign partner APCOF made a presentation during the dialogue, which reflected on the work of the Global Campaign, and raised awareness of South Africa’s obligation to review and repeal these laws in accordance with the Principles on the Decriminalisation of Petty Offences in Africa, and the African Court’s Advisory Opinion on Vagrancy-related offences.

Regional discussion on alternatives to detention in the criminal justice system: On 20 September 2023, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held an expert meeting on alternatives to detention in the criminal justice context. Hosted by the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa, with support from the APCOF and DIGNITY, the aim of the event was to discuss the current situation of overcrowding and the overuse of arrest and detention. This included discussion on alternatives to arrest, police custody and prison, with submissions made by APCOF regarding both the work of the Global Campaign and the need to address arbitrary and discriminatory arrests in accordance with the aforementioned Principles.

Moroccan and Tunisian coalitions convene to strategise: North African Campaign partners, led by Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) organized a strategic workshop aimed at developing a new plan of action at national levels, as well as at regional and international levels, in June 2023, in Casablanca, Morocco. Through the workshop, the coalitions were able to identify strategic areas of work, as well as shared advocacy targets, allies, and adversaries.

On 21-22 September, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) held thematic discussions on the implementation of the Kyoto Declaration, focused on “Promoting the rule of law”, aimed to enhance peer-to-peer exchange on good practices at national, regional and global levels. Over the two days in Vienna, discussions focused on equal treatment before the law, national sentencing policies, effective anti-corruption efforts, and more. Campaign partner, the International Legal Foundation (the ILF) spoke on a panel, highlighting discrimination based on poverty and the reforms needed to ensure equal access to justice. PRI also delivered an intervention on the criminalisation of people based on poverty and status, and the opportunities presented by the upcoming expert group meeting on equal access to justice to address discriminatory laws and practices.

ExPEERience Talk on the Global Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty, Status and Activism: organised by Avocats Sans Frontières, the talk introduced the Campaign and its remit to potential francophone members and offered the opportunity to join the Campaign. Different Campaign members then showcased aspects of their work to demonstrate how members collaborate towards the decriminalisation of poverty, status, and activism.


Updated findings on petty offences violations in Nigeria: Over the past 3 years, Campaign partner Lawyers Alert has been monitoring and documenting human rights violations associated with petty offences in Nigeria. This report is a compendium of documented incidents of petty offences violations reported between October 2022 and September 2023. The data utilized in this report is drawn from inputs made into the Lawyers Alert Documentation Tool (LadocT).

Republic of the Congo: imagining another future: How can respect for prisoners’ basic rights be improved in Congolese prisons? Experiences and practices of a grassroots organisation.

Republic of the Congo: prisons in 2023 country profile from Prison Insider gathers answers to over 350 questions about prisons in the Congo. What is the total number of prisoners? What is the percentage of untried prisoners? Who runs the prisons? Is drinking water free and accessible to prisoners? Explore the full compilation of Country Profiles.

Drug Decriminalisation [e]Course, a freely accessible e-course, in partnership with the Health [e]Foundation and Mainline, has reached over 900 subscribers from 100 countries — the latest being Togo! The course is available in four languages, is structured around seven standalone modules and is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about decriminalisation and how to advocate for it.

The United States’ overreliance on legal fees and fines is directly impacting one in three American families, according to a new survey just released from the Fines and Fees Justice Center and the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law. The new report exposes a stark reality: for millions of working families, the money needed for necessities, such as food, housing, healthcare, and transportation, is being redirected to pay off court debt. At least 17 million families with children, sacrifice essentials due to court debt.

Policing and the Punitive Politics of Local Homelessness Policy report shows why cities often respond to homelessness with criminalization and punitive punishments. Developed by Community Solutions, a non-profit housing advocacy group, and researchers from Cornell and Boston University, the report collected survey responses from the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities and found that police departments are largely influential in implementing local homelessness policies.

Poverty Penalties as Human Rights Problems journal article outlines how fines and other financial sanctions are frequently imposed by criminal justice systems around the world and penalise poor persons far more than rich ones. These “poverty penalties” have received attention in domestic jurisdictions but are understudied as a global phenomenon. The article takes up this issue and makes the normative case for addressing poverty penalties within human rights law and offers suggestions for how this can be achieved.

Inclusive policies and programmes to address homelessness: Report of the UN Secretary-General: The report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 76/133, provides a review of the progress, gaps and challenges in inclusive social development policies and programmes to address homelessness, given the socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In the report, the Secretary-General proposes possible indicators for social protection and access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Re-thinking the Bars: Access and administration of justice for women who commit petty offences: Too often, in many countries, the criminal justice system is perceived to create significant obstacles to women’s access to justice despite the United Nations (UN) and regional legal instruments recognizing women as a vulnerable group. This study contributes to the acceleration of actions and policies in Kenya to increase women’s access to justice and nurture a responsive justice system that advances women’s equal rights, opportunity, and participation.

Global Study on the Impact of Counter-Terrorism on Civil Society and Civic Space centres the daily, lived experiences of activists from across the globe operating in an environment of closing civic space and the widespread misuse of counter-terrorism laws and policies aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (measures that violate human rights, restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms, and curb legitimate activities).

Moving away from the punitive paradigm: An analysis of the 2023 OHCHR report on drug policy: In September 2023, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a landmark report on human rights in drug policy. This report constitutes the most ambitious and comprehensive UN document to date on the alignment of drug policies with human rights. Campaign partner IDPC’s advocacy note focuses on the new standards and recommendations developed in the OHCHR report, the consolidation of prior human rights standards developed by other UN bodies and recommendations for effective implementation of the vision.

Introduction to the Nelson Mandela Rules International Training Programme: This publication has been developed to guide trainers leading 4-day in-person training courses for prison staff designed by the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and PRI in partnership with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (SPPS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This manual has been made available as an online resource to encourage the development of training programmes on the Nelson Mandela Rules or to supplement existing training agendas.

Experiencing confinement: A look at the detention of women and minors in Ivory Coast: (available in French only) This report by FIACAT, ACAT-CI and CERDAP2 brings together various testimonies from the prison environment and pays particular attention to the situation of women and minors, whose condition is made invisible by the production of global data because they are a minority. Carried out since 2014 and supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Côte d’Ivoire, the report writing is part of the final phase of the implementation of the project “Helping people in pre-trial detention and promoting the social reintegration of women and minors in prisons in Côte d’Ivoire (APRES CI)“.

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