“Decriminalising poverty in South Africa” – Webinar report

South Africa’s Constitution, reflective of regional human rights law, embodies values and principles that mandate the adoption and implementation of measures that promote a more inclusive and egalitarian society. To achieve this, the state is compelled to identify and address the underlying and social determinants of poverty, inequality and social economic marginalisation. However, across all nine provinces, laws exist, primarily enshrined in metropolitan municipal by-laws, that criminalise the status of individuals and entrench discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation.

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote a rights-centred approach to the use of arrest and detention, the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) published a policy-relevant research study which highlights problematic municipal by-laws that have the effect of criminalising urban poverty and the performance of life-sustaining activities in public places, and recommends the adoption of an alternative framework to criminalisation.

To launch the study, and to build on the network of organisations and individuals working to promote the decriminalisation of poverty and homelessness in South Africa, APCOF hosted a launch webinar between 10h00 and 11h30 on 1 July 2021.

Download the full report here: Poverty is not a crime: Decriminalising Petty By-Laws in South Africa

Read the webinar report below:

23 August, 2021
Petty Offences
Alternatives to Criminalisation
Cost of Exclusion
Courts Systems
Human Rights
Use of Public Spaces
South Africa
Campaign Partners:
Africa Policing Civilian Oversight Forum

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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