ሴንተር ፎር ጀስቲስ

Center for Justice

Human Right for Every One!

Center for Justice (CJ) is a non-governmental, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of rule of law, human rights & democratic governance in Ethiopia through a mix of advocacy, research, and practical programs. It also promotes criminal justice systems that uphold human rights for all. It seeks to raise the voices of HRDs and act as a catalyst for change. We run practical human rights programs and support reforms that make criminal justice fair and effective. 

FOREWORD

Criminal law, due process and detention practices play core roles in human rights protection. The health of criminal justice systems and conditions in prisons and police detention centers are essential indicators of the status of human rights in the country. Created in 2007, Center for in the coming years  will play a key role in the renewal of national  human rights because our work reinforces the foundations of the rule of law and good governance. In CJ’s 10 years of existence, we have learned that we believe in more than a set of international human rights standards that guide our work: we believe in a set of values and must live up to these internally and externally. We believe that safe societies are built when the rights of every individual are recognized, whatever criminal offence they may have committed; we believe societies grow healthier when sentences are proportionate and their primary purpose is rehabilitation, not retribution. Through the priorities highlighted in this document and the practical reform approach we offer, we will challenge policies that lead to prison overcrowding and will engage in offering alternatives to detention. Our values help build safe societies with fair and effective criminal justice systems. We take a proactive role with government actors, engaging and convincing them of our agenda by adopting a practical and respectful approach, and building trust and long-term collaboration.

All persons in contact with the criminal justice system are vulnerable because they are subject to the power of the state, on whom they depend to meet their needs and protect their human rights. State must not abuse this power and must protect the human rights of all people who are in contact with their criminal justice systems. The vulnerability of some people is exacerbated by their circumstances and characteristics. Overall, crime is not rising; however, the number of people in contact with criminal justice systems across the nation , and significantly the number of people in detention, is rising. Overcrowding has become a national  problem, thus affecting the health of people in prison and negatively impacting their social rehabilitation. A repressive approach is causing more people to be sentenced to prison, which does not create safer societies. By contrast, criminal justice systems that reject pre-trial detention as a norm, take into account personal pathways to crime, apply proportionate sentences and impose imprisonment only when necessary, build safer societies and improve respect for the dignity of every human being. Too often, poverty and social exclusion are factors that lead to offending. People in prison cannot support their families, plunging them further into poverty. Once out of prison, the cycle of deprivation and crime continues: the stigma of a prison sentence can prevent people from obtaining jobs, which may push them to offend again, especially if they believe it is the only way to survive. CJ supports people in contact with criminal justice systems. For over 10 years, our pragmatic initiatives have benefited people at every stage of the justice system, from pre-trial detention to post-release. We also assist prison, judges, police, and national policymakers and practitioners to improve the justice system.  We work to create a just, humane and effective prison system. We do this by inquiring into the workings of the system; informing prisoners, staff and the wider public; and by influencing Parliament, government and officials towards reform..

 Our purpose is to create a just, humane and effective criminal justice systems and structures in order to protect the human rights and address the needs of the people who pass through them. We have adopted a thematic approach to respond to the needs of these populations and distinguish protection of human rights from the many tools we use to reform criminal justice systems. We challenge laws and sentencing practices that punish behaviors associated with poverty and disadvantage and promote laws and practices that favor the proportionate use of imprisonment and non-custodial sanctions with a focus on rehabilitation, thereby enabling those who have offended to lead productive lives. Combined, these measures aim to address overcrowding in jurisdictions. We believe in a value system of good governance that essentially centres on the principle ‘do no harm’. We seek to prevent the harms that prison and criminal justice systems can cause to those in contact with the law, as well as their families and society at large.