Community Law Centre reflects on Court Monitoring Project

Yesterday, Professor Lukas Muntingh, the head of Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at the Community Law Centre shared the lessons learnt and challenges of the Court Watching Brief Programme (Court Monitoring Project) during the Justice for Breakfast roundtable which took place at the University of the Western Cape.

The roundtable which was a lunch edition focused on the Court Monitoring Project and value of oversight of the police, and the criminal justice system more broadly. The Court Monitoring Project which started last year March was run through the Community Law Centre in its initial phases; it is now an on-going programme of the Western Cape Department of Community Safety.

This initiative is part of the civilian oversight of the police and state authorities require an on-going commitment to the rule of law and the key values of democratic governance: transparency, accountability and responsiveness, which this session was focusing on. The session looked at the value of the programme in the context of enabling better functioning of the criminal justice system and the greater access to justice of those interacting in this system. We will also reflect on the extent to which civilian oversight is central to this.

These roundtables are dialogue forums where practitioners, policy makers and academics gather to consider the subject at hand and deliberate the issues and the possible solutions. Each Justice for Breakfast produces an outcomes document that is made available to the participants and a wider network. This is an informal safe space for frank discussion where we observe the Chatham House Rule.

The guest speaker at this event was Premier Helen Zille who addressed the roundtable on the Court Monitoring Programme and Civilian Oversight innovation in the Western Cape. The event was organised by Wits Justice Project and the Public Safety Programme @WSG and it was attended by academics, civil society stakeholders, government agencies including the SAPS and other provincial criminal justice stakeholders. It concluded with an open discussion including experiences of those benefiting from the Court Watching Briefs.

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