Criminal Justice

SALC’s Criminal Justice work is integrated within its other programmatic areas and focuses on the following objectives:

  • To challenging the constitutionality of minor petty offences through law reform, advocacy and litigation.
  • To improve access to health care services and recognition of the health needs of all prisoners.
  • To improve prison conditions and reduce overcrowding in prisons.
  • To support challenges to the death penalty.
  • To develop jurisprudence on the rights of military detainees.
  • To challenge police arrest practices, including sweeping exercises.

Current cases:

Malawi: Case challenging the constitutionality of the begging and begging with deformities offences.
Malawi: Case challenging the constitutionality of offence criminalising poverty, and police mass arrest practices.
Malawi: Case challenging the constitutionality of the offence of soliciting for an immoral purpose. 
Zambia: Challenging the Mental Disorders Act, including provisions relating to detention.
Nigeria: Challenging police arrest practices.
Nigeria: Challenging police arrest practices.

Completed cases:

Malawi: Case challenging the imprisonment of children.
Zambia: Case challenging prison conditions and provision of adequate food for prisoners with HIV.
Malawi: Case challenging the constitutionality of the offence of being a rogue and vagabond.
Malawi: Challenging refusal to grant bail for terminally ill remandees.
Lesotho: Application for access to healthcare for military detainee.
Malawi: Case challenging unmet palliative care in detention.
Botswana: Challenging the refusal to provide antiretrovirals to foreign prisoners.
Malawi: Challenging sentencing practices which result in the incarceration of children with their caregivers.
Malawi: Discriminatory sentencing of persons with albinism.
Swaziland: Appealing the refusal to grant bail for persons charged under sedition and terrorism laws.
Lesotho: Seeking open arrest for military detainees subjected to torture.
Malawi: Challenging police arrest practices which unlawfully target sex workers.
Lesotho: Challenging police torture.
Malawi: Asserting the right to legal representation.
Malawi: Challenging the use of common nuisance offence.

09 Oct 2020 Staff Writer
Petty Offences Newsletter: Digest of Campaign Activities in September 2020...

In September 2020, the Regional Campaign to Decriminalise Petty Offences hosted a virtual conference entitled Policing Pandemics, Balancing Rights. The conference communique and recordings of the conference are available online, for 14 September 2020, 15 September 2020, and 16 September…

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27 Aug 2020 Staff Writer
Petty Offences Newsletter: Increased Criminalisation in Response to the COVID-19...

Regional Campaign partners remain deeply concerned about the criminalisation of poverty across our continent. It is critical that the Principles on the Decriminalisation of Petty Offences are implemented by all States. The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the enactment…

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05 Aug 2020 Staff Writer
Petty Offences Newsletter: Digest On Excessive Use Of Force In Response To COVID...

The Regional Campaign to Decriminalise Petty Offences has long argued for a change in police arrest practices and increased accountability of law enforcement agencies. Deprose Muchena, the Director of Amnesty International’s Southern Africa office, writes that the brutal killing of George Floyd…

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28 Jul 2020 Staff Writer
Petty offences newsletter: Decongest prisons now!...

The COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted the urgent need to decongest prisons throughout Africa. Although many countries have initiated decongestion measures, there is a simultaneous increase in arrests resulting from new COVID-19 laws. The impact of COVID-19 on courts and…

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17 Jul 2020 Staff Writer
CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS FOR THE URGENT DECONGESTION OF PRISONS AFTER COVID-19 CASES ...

We the undersigned organizations reiterate our call for the immediate decongestion of prisons following two confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mzimba and Chichiri Prison. On 14 July 2020, the Malawi Prison Service registered its first case of COVID-19 at…

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26 May 2020 Staff Writer
SALC Policy Brief: A Legal Overview of the Impact of COVID-19 on Justice and Rig...

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various countries in the Southern African region have put in place restrictions on gatherings, free movement, commerce and expression. Many of these measures limit human rights and result in criminal sanctions for breach. This…

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20 May 2020 Staff Writer
Joint letter on immediate and urgent measures to protect the rights of prison de...

Non-governmental human rights organisations joined in writing a letter to President John Pombe Magufuli on immediate and urgent measures to protect the rights of prison detainees in Tanzania.

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09 Apr 2020 Anneke Meerkotter
JOINT CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT CALLING FOR DECONGESTION OF MALAWI PRISONS AMID CO...

9 April 2020, Malawi - We the undersigned organisations commend His Excellency, The State President, Arthur Peter Mutharika for including prison decongestion as one of the measures to combat COVID-19 in Malawi. In his Presidential Address on 4 April 2020, the…

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02 Apr 2020 Amanda Shivamba
Submission to the Report of the Secretary General on the Question of the Death P...

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner made a call to Non Governmental Organisations to receive any relevant information with regard to the question of the Death Penalty. Below is SALC's Submission. Introduction This submission was prepared by SALC.…

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18 Mar 2020 Staff Writer
Joint Statement: CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS CALL FOR THE URGENT DECONGESTION OF...

With the COVID-19 pandemic having been declared a global emergency, the is an urgent need to address the high levels of congestion in Malawi prisons. The Malawi Government has appointed a Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus effective 7 March 2020,…

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15 Jan 2020 Anneke Meerkotter
SALC JOURNAL ARTICLE: LITIGATING TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF POOR AND MARGINALISED ...

PUBLISHED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI LAW REVIEW CAVEAT Anneke Meerkotter 74 U. Miami L. Rev. Caveat 1 (2020). Abstract For centuries, and across the world, penal laws have been used to regulate urban spaces, with a cruel focus on…

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20 Dec 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
NIGERIA COURT ORDERS LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO UPHOLD SEX WORKERS’ RIGHTS...

20 December 2019, Abuja – On 18 December 2019, the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja Division, per Justice Nyako, handed down an important judgment on sex workers’ rights to due process at the hands of law enforcement agencies, in…

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