Center for Justice (CJ) is a non-governmental, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization campaigning for the advancement of rule of law, human rights & democratic governance, and the progressive reform of Ethiopian penal policy. It was also founded to inform and influence public debate on prison conditions and the treatment of prisoners. We work to reform the penal system by working to ensure that Ethiopia’s penal policy and practice complies with human rights standards and strives towards international best practice and campaigning to ensure prison is only ever used as a sanction of last resort. We will influence decision-makers, opinion former and the public to: promote human rights in the criminal justice system; reduce the use of prison and improve conditions for prisoners. This priority area includes activities to protects and promote human rights, promote expand access to justice; and develop and strengthen fair and efficient criminal justice systems, in line with international standards and recognized good practice.
We work to promote criminal justice system that uphold human rights for all; we run practical human rights programs and support reforms that make criminal justice fair and effective and we work to transform Ethiopia to democratically governed community of nation to achieve our vision.
To see safe and democratic societies in which a criminal justice system is just and humane; protects and promotes human rights, equality and social justice; and uses prison as a last resort.
Center for Justice Main Objectives and Aims
Strengthen the rule of law through promotion of human rights, an effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice system and access to Justice, in line with the UN standards and norms and other relevant international instruments
Advocate for a national penal policy that promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime, and uses prison as a last resort through alternative conflict resolution mechanisms and the use of constructive non-custodial sanctions which encourages social reintegration
Promote humane conditions of detention
Promote social rehabilitation and re-integration of prisoners
Promotion of citizens’ rights and people’s involvement in democratic processes
Developed Capacities of Center for Justice
We are guided by human rights frameworks and best international standards
Our advocacy is based on high quality research and evidence-informed policies
We promote equal access to justice and fair process for those suspected of having committed criminal offenses and those who have committed criminal offenses. We actively promote the involvement and participation of disadvantaged and socially excluded groups in efforts to reform and oversee criminal justice systems and ensure respect for their rights.
We are fearless in our voice and in our actions
We are mindful of the importance of engaging directly with government , people in prison and their families
On our activities, our funding and our partners we aim to be as open and accountable as possible with all our stakeholders, including officials in criminal justice systems and governments, and partners with whom we engage
We put humanity at the core of our work for justice and fairness. Our actions and interventions are motivated by compassion towards others, especially those who face difficulties and challenging situations
Center for Justice Areas of Work for 2021-2023
- Human Rights
- Rule of Law
- Access to Justice
- Alternatives to imprisonment
- Pre-trial justice
- Prison Conditions
- Health in detention
- Rehabilitation and Re-integration
- Capacity Building, Justice Sectors and organizational
- Democracy & Good Governance and
- Peace Building & Conflict Management
In our ambitions for 2021 – 2023
Advocate for a national criminal justice system policy that is
just and humane promotes effective non-custodial responses to crime, and uses prison as a last resort.
Promote a Criminal Justice system
humane as experienced by people who are detained protects and promotes human rights and equality, and strives to achieve international best practice in formal regimes, daily practices, and overall culture
We put people in criminal justice systems at the heart of our work
All persons are vulnerable when they come into contact with a criminal justice system, face criminal proceedings, are in detention, or re-enter society after time spent in prison. While we advocate for the protection of all people in contact with the criminal justice system, we will put particular efforts in ensuring that governments and criminal justice agencies recognize the needs and character of specific groups who require a distinct approach to protect their rights because they are especially at risk of violence or neglect. We publicize and implement international human rights standards that protect populations who face particular risks. In 2021-2023 we will specifically focus on the following populations:
Where we work
Our organizational model is flexible, enabling us to reach our objectives while remaining centered in our legal personality registered in The Ethiopia to work in all Regions, including Addis Ababa & Dire Dawa.
Our impact and achievements
Center for Justice has been actively working on the promotion, protection and respect of human rights in prisons and on detention conditions improvement. We work to ensure just and appropriate responses to children and women who come into contact with the law. We work with governmental organizations to bring about reforms that balance the rights of offenders, and we advocate to reform legislation, policy and practice in the past 11 years to contribute our fair share in the improvement of prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in Ethiopia and to ensure that regimes in prisons and detention facilities are humane, and reflect human rights standards as a minimum in the short term, striving for international best practice in the medium to long term. Wealso advocate for an Ethiopian criminal justice policy that is focused on non-custodial responses to crime, and which has rehabilitation and social integration at its center. We promote an increase in the use of non-custodial effective responses to crime as a means of reducing the numbers in detention without net-widening and promote rehabilitation and social integration as central concerns of Ethiopian criminal justice policy.
We currently implementing several projects focused on health and rights, rule of law and access to justice, promotion and protection of human rights, social justice, democratic governance, conflict prevention and peace buildings, livelihood development, crime prevention and prisoners rehabilitation and reintegration and COVID-19 prevention. CJ advocates for an increase in the use of alternatives to detention as a solution to the prison crisis and in the long-term to reduce re-offending rates better protect human rights and tackle overcrowding.
CJ strives to bring about systemic change in Ethiopia prisons& other criminal justice systems and policy. Our activities aim to be effective, applicable and sustainable through building the capacity of Ethiopian prisons and other justice systems, staffs and prisoners. We work as a catalyst for systemic change through a mix of lobby, advocacy , policy dialogue and practical programs for reform. Our work is evidence-based and targeted to the needs of specific beneficiary groups. We work in partnership with governmental and non-governmental bodies. We promote prison and other justice sectors reforms at the level of legislation, policy and practice. CJ has reach experience in promotion and protection of prisoners human rights, justice sectors capacity development, improving detention condition, including sanitation and hygiene & health care. Over the last couple of years, it has had interventions in 21 prisons of Oromia, Federal, Amhara, Harari, Sidama and SNNPR which aimed at curbing problems of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in the area of health care, ill-treatment, prison overcrowding, alternatives to imprisonment, education , skills development trainings, women and youth socioeconomic empowerment , protection of child offenders and other prisoners to contribute to the fulfillment of their rights , and stakeholders capacity development through action research , lobbing and advocacy, pilot interventions and partnership with other prominent human right organizations .There are rich experiences and skills which the CJ bring to promotion and protection of human rights in criminal justice system of Ethiopia.. It will bring all the experiences it got by working around prisons & other justice sectors and the wealth of knowledge the director had gained about the challenges of prisons and the systemic problems they have and by going through them as a prisoner and working on prisons and the relationship it has with officials in the region to the advantage of this intervention.
In response to poor prison health care and other rehabilitation facilities, CJ has been constructed and furnished health care facilities, educational facilities, including nursery schools for children detained with their mothers, , vocational education and training and production workshops, child offenders separate accommodation facilities ,etc . It has implemented vocational skills trainings, economic strengthening and health care services projects for prisoners , life and entrepreneurship skills development trainings , children with parents in prison vulnerability reduction project , economic strengthening of HIV positive inmates; child offenders development poultry and dairy farm; women prisoners economic empowerment , educational access for prisoners and creating access to financial services for inmates . As a result, the CJ projects have benefited directly 57,500 prisoners and indirectly more than 30 million people. With the aim to build the capacity of prison staffs to deliver professional services respectful of human rights , CJ has provided ongoing capacity building support including TO training and supply of material item .
Overall speaking, CJ was able to successfully implement different projects in prisons that paved the opportunity to earn goodwill from the local governments and trust in the beneficiaries resulted in forging strong and strategic partnership with relevant stakeholders which still is well maintained.
Equally important to the results and changes CJ was able to bring so far in the area, CJ proves its organizational success in having an enabling working environment, bringing onboard well experienced indigenous professionals, in which CJ counts as its competitive advantages to coordinate and implement the upcoming projects effectively and efficiently. Hence, CJ’s becoming one of the few active CSOs in advancing the causes of human rights in Ethiopia.