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:

Zambia: Case challenging prison conditions and provision of adequate food for prisoners with HIV.
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
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.

16 Aug 2019 Anneke Meerkotter

The Rights4All Project, as part of its My Body My Rights Campaign, has produced leaflets on the laws which can be used by sex workers to assert their rights.   See detailed pamphlet here See summary pamphlet here

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22 Jul 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Sedition charges impact on freedom of expression in Eswatini...

Opinion Piece first published on 22 July 2019 on In May 2019 a lone activist, Goodwill Sibiya, sought to file an application before the civil courts in Eswatini. In the application, apparently drafted without legal representation, the applicant sought to remedy…

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21 May 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Malawi: Asserting the right to legal representation...

Factual Background Mr D had been convicted of robbery after a full trial. At the time of his trial, however, he was not informed of his right to legal representation, and he further did not benefit from the offer of…

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21 May 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Nigeria: Challenge to arbitrary arrest of women during sweeping exercises...

Factual Background The applicants were among 71 women who were arrested at various public spaces in Abuja between 17 and 26 April 2019. The arrests were carried out by the FCTA Joint Task Team comprising the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Securities…

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13 May 2019 Anneke Meerkotter

Blantyre, Malawi – On Monday 13 May 2019, a 3-judge bench of the High Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, handed down judgment in the case of State v Willias Daudi. On 8 August 2018, the Malawi High Court in…

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22 Feb 2019 Staff Writer
Media Advisory: Malawi High Court to Determine Constitutionality of Sweeping Exe...

Blantyre, Malawi – On Monday, the Malawi High Court, Judge Zione Ntaba, will hear a case in which the Applicants are challenging the police practice of conducting arbitrary mass arrests under the guise of crime prevention. The case is supported…

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21 Feb 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Malawi: Challenging constitutionality of offence which criminalises poverty...

Factual Background One of the enduring legacies of colonialism in Africa is the police practice of arbitrary mass arrests. These so-called ‘sweeping’ or ‘swooping’ exercises are typically conducted by police over weekends and at night. Such sweeping exercises tend to…

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13 Feb 2019 Staff Writer
News Release: Children released from Malawi prison...

13 February 2019, Blantyre, Malawi – Following a Malawi High Court order in June 2018, Bvumbwe and Kachere Prisons have now responded to the order to release children from prison. The civil society organisations which brought the court application for…

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30 Jan 2019 Staff Writer
Media Advisory: Malawi High Court to decide on interim order preventing detentio...

Zomba, Malawi – On Wednesday 30 January 2019, the Malawi High Court, will hear argument on an interim application to prevent prisoners with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) from being returned to prison. In October 2018, the Zomba High Court granted six…

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29 Oct 2018 Anneke Meerkotter

Factual Background The applicants were arrested by Thaba-Tseka Police in January 2018 on allegations of armed robbery. During the arrest, the applicants were assaulted and tortured to such an extent that they had to be taken to the hospital for…

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21 Oct 2018 Anneke Meerkotter
Nigeria: Challenge to arbitrary arrest of women during sweeping exercises...

Factual Background The applicants are among 50 women arrested and detained on 22 February 2017 by the joint task force comprising members of Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and other law enforcement agents. The applicants are…

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16 Oct 2018 Annabel Raw
#WFD2018 Stop the Torture by Starvation in Malawi’s Prisons...

By Victor Mhango and Annabel Raw On this World Food Day, the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) call for radical and urgent reform of the prison system to stop…

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