Africa Criminal Justice Reform

ACJR engages in high-quality research, teaching and advocacy on criminal justice reform and human rights in Africa. Our work supports targeted evidence-based advocacy and policy development promoting good governance and human rights in criminal justice systems. Our work is anchored in international, regional and domestic law. We promote policy, law and practice reform based on evidence. We have a particular focus on effective oversight over the criminal justice system, especially in relation to the deprivation of liberty.
  • Our explicit human rights focus. International and regional human rights law informs and guides all of our work and we partner with organisations with similar approaches. This distinguishes us from security-focused organisations.
  • Our partnerships with local organisations. Partnerships ensure mutual learning and growth. Wherever possible we seek to support reform processes in partnership with government and civil society stakeholders across the continent, to ensure local ownership of reform processes and the transfer of skills.
  • Our expertise in both social science research and legal research. We carry out empirical social science research to inform policy and processes, in addition to legal analysis and research.
  • Our ability to engage in multiple languages. We have researchers fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Afrikaans, ensuring that we are able to engage with most countries in Africa.
  • Our ability to translate law and research into plain language and multi-media. Where appropriate, our work is transformed for particular audiences.
  • Our academic rigour. We are based at the Dullah Omar Institute which is in turn part of the University of the Western Cape. We regularly publish in academic journals.

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As a programme of the Dullah Omar Institute, our work previously took place under the name of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative (CSPRI), which had among its sub-programmes Promoting Pre-trial Justice in Africa (PPJA) and its partnership in the Article 5 Initiative (A5i).

PPJA sought to provide information on pre-trial justice in Africa to inform decision-making and improve practice, while A5I sought to support African institutions in improvements to domestic compliance with international law obligations, norms and procedures under the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).

The CSPRI became Africa Criminal Justice Reform (ACJR), which encompasses all prior sub-programmes of CSPRI, on 18 April 2017.

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