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Conversations on restorative justice

A talk with Rob White

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Authors Albert Dzur
Author's information

Albert Dzur
Albert Dzur is Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Political Science and Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, USA. Contact author: awdzur@bgsu.edu.
Article

Access_open A future agenda for environmental restorative justice?

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords restorative justice, restorative practice, environmental justice, environmental regulation
Authors Miranda Forsyth, Deborah Cleland, Felicity Tepper e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The challenges of developing meaningful environmental regulation to protect communities and the environment have never been greater. Environmental regulators are regularly criticised for failing to act hard and consistently, in turn leading to demands for harsher punishments and more rigorous enforcement. Whilst acknowledging the need for strong enforcement to address wantonly destructive practices threatening communities and ecosystems, we argue that restorative approaches have an important role. This article explores a future agenda for environmental restorative justice through (1) situating it within existing scholarly and practice-based environmental regulation traditions; (2) identifying key elements and (3) raising particular theoretical and practical challenges. Overall, our vision for environmental restorative justice is that its practices can permeate the entire regulatory spectrum, going far beyond restorative justice conferences within enforcement proceedings. We see it as a shared and inclusive vision that seeks to integrate, hybridise and build broader ownership for environmental restorative justice throughout existing regulatory practices and institutions, rather than creating parallel structures or paradigms.


Miranda Forsyth
Miranda Forsyth is Associate Professor at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Deborah Cleland
Deborah Cleland is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Felicity Tepper
Felicity Tepper is a Senior Research Officer at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Deborah Hollingworth
Deborah Hollingworth is a Principal Solicitor at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia.

Milena Soares
Milena Soares is a public servant at the Técnica de Desenvolvimento e Administração,Brazil.

Alistair Nairn
Alistair Nairn is Senior Engagement Advisor at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia.

Cathy Wilkinson
Cathy Wilkinson is Professor of Practice at Monash Sustainable Development, Australia. Contact author: miranda.forsyth@anu.edu.au.
Article

Environmental justice movements and restorative justice

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords restorative justice, environmental conflicts, environmental justice movements
Authors Angèle Minguet
AbstractAuthor's information

    The worldwide existing environmental conflicts have also given rise to worldwide environmental justice movements. Using a diversity of tools that range from petitions to legal actions, what such movements have often shown is that environmental conflicts rarely find a satisfactory resolution through criminal judicial avenues. Given this reality, the important question then is whether there is a place within environmental justice movements for a restorative justice approach, which would lead to the reparation or restoration of the environment and involve the offenders, the victims and other interested parties in the conflict transformation process. Based on the analysis of environmental conflicts collected by the Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade project (EJOLT), and more specifically on two emblematic environmental conflict cases in Nigeria and in Ecuador, the argument will be made that it is essentially due to the characteristics of environmental conflicts, and due to the fact that they almost never find a satisfactory resolution through traditional judicial avenues, that environmental justice movements ask for a restorative approach, and that restorative justice is a sine qua non condition to truly repair environmental injustices, as long as the worldview and nature of the victims is taken into consideration.


Angèle Minguet
Angèle Minguet is a researcher at the Research Centre in Political Science, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles (CReSPo), Belgium. Contact author: angele.minguet@gmail.com.
Article

Sustained restorative dialogue exploring a proactive restorative process to help address campus sexual harm

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue Online first 2021
Keywords restorative justice, restorative dialogue, campus sexual violence, sexual harm, sociolinguistics
Authors Amy Giles-Mitson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Campus sexual harm is a widespread problem that demands approaches that focus on prevention, alongside those that respond to specific incidents of harm. This article presents the outcomes of a proactive initiative – a sustained restorative dialogue – that uses restorative circle practice in the university setting to better understand the issue of sexual harm, and identify practical steps that focus on its reduction. Speech data from post hoc interviews with participants of the dialogue is analysed in order to demonstrate the outcomes of the process, and highlight the value of using a dialogic model to address the issue on campus. Findings suggest that the process has very real potential for enhancing understanding and awareness and increasing communication on the topic, these being important precursors to transforming the cultural norms and campus climates that foster sexual harm.


Amy Giles-Mitson
Amy Giles-Mitson is a researcher in linguistics and restorative justice at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Contact author: Amy Giles-Mitson at amyjo
Article

Using restorative justice to rethink the temporality of transition in Chile

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue Online first 2021
Keywords temporality, transitional justice, restorative justice, Chile, ongoingness, multilayeredness & multidirectionality
Authors Marit de Haan and Tine Destrooper
AbstractAuthor's information

    Assumptions of linear progress and a clean break with the past have long characterised transitional justice interventions. This notion of temporality has increasingly been problematised in transitional justice scholarship and practice. Scholars have argued that a more complex understanding of temporalities is needed that better accommodates the temporal messiness and complexity of transitions, including their ongoingness, multilayeredness and multidirectionality. Existing critiques, however, have not yet resulted in a new conceptual framework for thinking about transitional temporalities. This article builds on insights from the field of restorative justice to develop such a framework. This framework foregrounds longer timelines, multilayered temporalities and temporal ecologies to better reflect reality on the ground and victims’ lived experiences. We argue that restorative justice is a useful starting point to develop such a temporal framework because of its actor-oriented, flexible and interactive nature and proximity to the field of transitional justice. Throughout this article we use the case of Chile to illustrate some of the complex temporal dynamics of transition and to illustrate what a more context-sensitive temporal lens could mean for such cases of un/finished transition.


Marit de Haan
Marit de Haan is a PhD researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, Belgium.

Tine Destrooper
Tine Destrooper is Associate Professor of Transitional Justice at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, Belgium. Contact author: Marit de Haan at marit.dehaan@ugent.be.
Article

The Impact of VAAs on Vote Switching at the 2019 Belgian Legislative Elections: More Switchers, but Making Their Own Choices

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue Online FIrst 2021
Keywords voting advice applications, vote switching, vote choice, elections and electoral behaviour, voters/citizens in Belgium, VAA
Authors David Talukder, Laura Uyttendaele, Isaïa Jennart e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    During electoral campaigns, the use of voting advice applications (VAAs) has become increasingly widespread. Consequently, scholars have examined both the patterns of usage and their effects on voting behaviour. However, existing studies lead to conflicting findings. In this article, we take a closer look at the effect of De Stemtest/Test électoral (a VAA developed by academics from the University of Louvain and the University of Antwerp, in partnership with Belgian media partners) on vote switching. More specifically, we divide this latter question into two sub-questions: (1) What is the impact of a (dis)confirming advice from the VAA on vote switching? (2) Do VAA users follow the voting advice provided by the VAA? Our study shows that receiving a disconfirming advice from the VAA increases the probability of users to switch their vote choice.


David Talukder
David Talukder is a PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium). He works within the research project “Reforming Representative Democracy”. His main research interests are democratic innovations, political representation, and democratic reforms.

Laura Uyttendaele
Laura Uyttendaele is a PhD candidate at the University of Louvain (UC Louvain, Belgium). Her main research interests are Voting Advice Applications, Youth & politics, political attitudes and behaviours, and experimental methods.

Isaïa Jennart
Isaïa Jennart is a PhD candidate (Universiteit Antwerpen & VUB, Belgium) interested in public opinion, electoral campaigns, voting behaviour, Voting Advice Applications and political knowledge. He mainly studies citizens’ knowledge of parties’ issue positions.

Benoît Rihoux
Benoît Rihoux is full professor in political science at the University of Louvain (UC Louvain, Belgium). His research covers comparative methods (especially QCA) as well as diverse topics in comparative politics, political organizations and political behaviour.
Article

Access_open Correcting Wrongful Convictions in France

Has the Act of 2014 Opened the Door to Revision?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords Final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, preparatory investigative measures, Cour de révision et de réexamen
Authors Katrien Verhesschen and Cyrille Fijnaut
AbstractAuthor's information

    The French ‘Code de procédure pénale’ provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. The Act of 2014 reformed the procedure for revision and introduced some important novelties. The first is that it reduced the different possible grounds for revision to one ground, which it intended to broaden. The remaining ground for revision is the existence of a new fact or an element unknown to the court at the time of the initial proceedings, of such a nature as to establish the convicted person’s innocence or to give rise to doubt about his guilt. The legislature intended judges to no longer require ‘serious doubt’. However, experts question whether judges will comply with this intention of the legislature. The second is the introduction of the possibility for the applicant to ask the public prosecutor to carry out the investigative measures that seem necessary to bring to light a new fact or an unknown element before filing a request for revision. The third is that the Act of 2014 created the ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’, which is composed of eighteen judges of the different chambers of the ‘Cour de cassation’. This ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’ is divided into a ‘commission d’instruction’, which acts as a filter and examines the admissibility of the requests for revision, and a ‘formation de jugement’, which decides on the substance of the requests. Practice will have to show whether these novelties indeed improved the accessibility of the revision procedure.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open Mechanisms for Correcting Judicial Errors in Germany

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords criminal proceedings, retrial in favour of the convicted, retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant, Germany, judicial errors
Authors Michael Lindemann and Fabienne Lienau
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article presents the status quo of the law of retrial in Germany and gives an overview of the law and practice of the latter in favour of the convicted and to the disadvantage of the defendant. Particularly, the formal and material prerequisites for a successful petition to retry the criminal case are subject to a detailed presentation and evaluation. Because no official statistics are kept regarding successful retrial processes in Germany, the actual number of judicial errors is primarily the subject of more or less well-founded estimates by legal practitioners and journalists. However, there are a few newer empirical studies devoted to different facets of the subject. These studies will be discussed in this article in order to outline the state of empirical research on the legal reality of the retrial procedure. Against this background, the article will ultimately highlight currently discussed reforms and subject these to a critical evaluation as well. The aim of the recent reform efforts is to add a ground for retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant for cases in which new facts or evidence indicate that the acquitted person was guilty. After detailed discussion, the proposal in question is rejected, inter alia for constitutional reasons.


Michael Lindemann
Michael Lindemann is Professor for Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Criminology at the Faculty of Law of Bielefeld University, Germany.

Fabienne Lienau
Fabienne Lienau is Research Assistant at the Chair held by Michael Lindemann.

    In a summary proceeding, the Court of Rotterdam has held that it is not clear whether the Non-Seafarers Work Clause, prohibiting lashing work on board of container ships being carried out by the crew, does indeed contribute to better employment and/or working conditions of seafarers. As a result of which the Clause – at this time – cannot be held to be outside the scope of competition law and the claim for compliance with the provision has been rejected. In the media, unions have stated that they will continue to enforce compliance with the Non-Seafarers Work Clause. It remains to be seen whether a court in main proceedings will reach a similar verdict.


Erick Hagendoorn
Erick Hagendoorn is an attorney-at-law at HerikVerhulst N.V., Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open The Right to Claim Innocence in Poland

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords wrongful convictions, right to claim innocence, reopening of criminal proceedings, miscarriage of justice, revision of final judgment
Authors Wojciech Jasiński Ph.D., habilitation and Karolina Kremens Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice, their reasons and effects, only rarely become the subject of academic debate in Poland. This article aims at filling this gap and providing a discussion on the current challenges of mechanisms available in Polish law focused on the verification of final judgments based on innocence claims. While there are two procedures designed to move such judgment: cassation and the reopening of criminal proceedings, only the latter aims at the verification of new facts and evidence, and this work remains focused exactly on that issue. The article begins with a case study of the famous Komenda case, which resulted in a successful innocence claim, serving as a good, though rare, example of reopening a case and acquitting the convict immediately and allows for discussing the reasons that commonly stand behind wrongful convictions in Poland. Furthermore, the article examines the innocence claim grounds as regulated in the Polish criminal procedure and their interpretation under the current case law. It also presents the procedure concerning the revision of the case. The work additionally provides the analysis of the use of innocence claim in practice, feeding on the statistical data and explaining tendencies in application for revision of a case. It also presents the efforts of the Polish Ombudsman and NGOs to raise public awareness in that field. The final conclusions address the main challenges that the Polish system faces concerning innocence claims and indicates the direction in which the system should go.


Wojciech Jasiński Ph.D., habilitation
Wojciech Jasiński is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Procedure of the University of Wroclaw, Poland. orcid.org/0000-0002-7427-1474

Karolina Kremens Ph.D.
Karolina Kremens is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Procedure of the University of Wroclaw, Poland. orcid.org/0000-0002-2132-2645
Human Rights Practice Review

The Czech Republic

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Viktor Kundrák and Maroš Matiaško
Author's information

Viktor Kundrák
Viktor Kundrák works for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a Hate Crime Officer. He is also a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague. The views in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent those of ODIHR.

Maroš Matiaško
Maroš Matiaško is a PhD candidate at Palacky University and Essex University. He is a chair of the Forum for Human Rights (NGO based in Prague) and human rights attorney at law.
Human Rights Practice Review

Kosovo

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Sabiha Shala
Author's information

Sabiha Shala
Prof. Assoc. Dr. at Law Faculty, University of Haxhi Zeka, Kosovo.
Article

Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania

Recognizing Individual Harm Caused by Cyber Hate?

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords hate speech, verbal hate crime, cyber hate, effective investigation, homophobia
Authors Viktor Kundrák
AbstractAuthor's information

    The issue of online hatred or cyber hate is at the heart of heated debates over possible limitations of online discussions, namely in the context of social media. There is freedom of expression and the value of the internet in and of itself on the one hand, and the need to protect the rights of victims, to address intolerance and racism, as well as the overarching values of equality of all in dignity and rights, on the other. Criminalizing some (forms of) expressions seems to be problematic but, many would agree, under certain circumstances, a necessary or even unavoidable solution. However, while the Court has long ago declared as unacceptable bias-motivated violence and direct threats, which under Articles 2, 3 and 8 in combination with Article 14 of the ECHR, activate the positive obligation of states to effectively investigate hate crimes, the case of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania presented the first opportunity for the Court to extend such an obligation to the phenomenon of online verbal hate crime. This article will first address the concepts of hate speech and hate crime, including their intersection and, through the lens of pre-existing case law, identify the key messages for both national courts and practitioners. On the margins, the author will also discuss the issue of harm caused by verbal hate crime and the need to understand and recognize its gravity.


Viktor Kundrák
Viktor Kundrák has worked for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a Hate Crime Officer since 2018. He has been responsible for ODIHR’s hate crime reporting, trained police, prosecutors and judges, and provided legislative and policy support at the national level. He is also a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague. The views in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent those of ODIHR. Some of the opinions are based on an article published in Czech earlier this year (see V. Kundrák & M. Hanych, ‘Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania (Verbal Hate Crime on Social Network and Discriminatory Investigation)’, The Overview of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Vol. 3, 2020.
Human Rights Practice Review

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Enis Omerović and Lejla Zilić
Author's information

Enis Omerović
Dr. Enis Omerović, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Department of State and Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lejla Zilić
Mr. Sc. Lejla Zilić, MA, Teaching Assistant at the Department of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Article

Access_open COVID-19-Related Sanitary Crisis and Derogations under Article 15 of the Convention

Considerations in Estonia

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords human rights, emergency situation, COVID-19 and sanitary crisis, Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR), Estonia
Authors Maris Kuurberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia was one of the states that decided to inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the health-related emergency situation in Estonia and noted, with reference to Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that some emergency measures may involve a derogation from certain obligations under the Convention. The Government’s considerations proceeded from the unprecedented scale of the sanitary crisis and the scope of extraordinary measures taken to tackle it. Importance was attached to the fact that the Court has never before assessed health-related exceptions allowed in some of the articles of the Convention in a situation which affects the whole nation – not to mention the articles of the Convention which do not set out any exceptions at all. Article 15 of the Convention, on the other hand, is designed to be applicable in public emergency situations threatening the life of the nation.


Maris Kuurberg
Maris Kuurberg (mag.iur.) has been the Estonian Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights since 2008 (the views expressed are solely those of the author). She works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is also a member of the Bureau of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights, as well as a member of the same steering committee and a member of the Committee of Experts on the System of the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1999, she has been a member of the Estonian Bar Association but her activity as an Attorney at Law is suspended since she joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Article

Digital Equals Public

Assembly Meetings Under a Lockdown Regime

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords COVID-19 regulation, temporary legislation, sunset clauses, digitalization, digital democracy, local democracy, experimental legislation
Authors Lianne van Kalken and Evert Stamhuis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we examine the Dutch emergency legislation for local democracy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, the Temporary Act for digital meetings for local/regional government tiers was enacted. The legislature introduced a system of digital debate and decision-making for municipal and provincial councils, the democratically elected assemblies at the local and regional levels. At the same time the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations set up an evaluation committee to monitor and evaluate the working of the local and provincial governments with this temporary legislation.
    This article discusses the content and application of the temporary provisions for deliberation and decision-making on a digital platform. The purpose of the legislation is to create possibilities for the elected representatives to continue their work during the lockdown. We examine the design and structure of the legislation and disclose the evaluation results so far. The arrangements aim for secure, transparent and reliable democratic practices. Early evidence pertaining to the effects of the Act show that it works effectively only up to a certain level. We critically discuss the sunset clause in the Act and plead against function creep. Moreover, the expectations now and in the future from continuous digitalization of this part of the democratic process should be modest. On the basis of our analysis of the characteristics of the legislation and the effects on the political work of the representatives, we conclude that the current form of digitalization does not provide for the interaction between representatives and their constituencies and the communities at large.


Lianne van Kalken
Lianne van Kalken is lecturer and researcher constitutional law in Erasmus School of Law. She was a member of the evaluation committee, but contributes to this article in a personal capacity. For further affiliations see http://www.linkedin.com/in/liannevankalken/.

Evert Stamhuis
Evert F. Stamhuis is chair Law & Innovation at Erasmus School of Law and senior fellow of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance. See for other affiliations https://www.linkedin.com/in/evertstamhuis/
Article

Access_open States of Emergency

Analysing Global Use of Emergency Powers in Response to COVID-19

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords coronavirus, emergency law, emergency powers, autocratization, democratic deconsolidation, state of emergency, rule of law, transparency, accountability, legislative scrutiny
Authors Joelle Grogan
AbstractAuthor's information

    The measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic have been among the most restrictive in contemporary history, and have raised concerns from the perspective of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Building on a study of the legal measures taken in response to pandemic in 74 countries, this article considers the central question of the use of power during an emergency: is it better or worse for democracy and the rule of law to declare an emergency or, instead, to rely on ordinary powers and legislative frameworks? The article then considers whether the use of powers (ordinary or emergency) in response to the pandemic emergency has ultimately been a cause, or catalyst of, further democratic deconsolidation. It concludes on a note of optimism: an emerging best practice of governmental response reliant on public trust bolstered by rationalized and transparent decision-making and the capacity to adapt, change and reform measures and policies.


Joelle Grogan
Dr. Joelle Grogan is Senior Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University London.
Article

Legislative Scrutiny in Times of Emergency

A Case Study of Australian Parliaments

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords legislative scrutiny, sunset clauses, emergency laws, virtual parliament, parliamentary committee, trust
Authors Hon Kate Doust MLC and Mr Sam Hastings
AbstractAuthor's information

    Citizens’ trust in Australian governments and parliaments has fallen in recent years, yet trust is critical for governments to do their job effectively and attack challenging issues. The coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for governments and parliaments to bridge the gap between citizens’ expectations and parliamentary and government performance and therefore rebuild trust. In doing so, parliaments need to balance their desire for speedy action with proportionate measures and mechanisms for review.
    This article examines the scrutiny of primary legislation by the parliaments of Western Australia the Commonwealth of Australia during the initial stages of the pandemic, through the application of principles from the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into fast-track legislation. The data shows that both parliaments had severely abridged time to consider, debate and consult on bills during the initial stages of the emergency. The parliaments took a different approach to address this issue. The Western Australian Parliament supported the inclusion of sunset clauses into most of the bills whereas the Commonwealth Parliament did not. The Commonwealth Parliament’s scrutiny committees considered and commented on the bills post-enactment. The Western Australian Parliament does not have mechanisms for the technical scrutiny of all bills by parliamentary committees. This divergence of approach is noteworthy as the Commonwealth Parliament has information about the impact and technical quality of bills but no power to address the issues identified. The Western Australian Parliament has little information about the impact and technical quality of the Acts but will likely have the opportunity to reconsider the laws if they are sought to be extended.


Hon Kate Doust MLC
Hon Kate Doust MLC is the President of the Legislative Council of Western Australia.

Mr Sam Hastings
Mr Sam Hastings is the Clerk Assistant (House) of the Legislative Council of Western Australia. The authors acknowledge the research assistance provided by Ms. Renae Jewell and Mr. Chris Hunt.
Article

Increased Uptake of Surveillance Technologies During COVID-19

Implications for Democracies in the Global South

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords surveillance technology, platform economy, COVID-19, democracy, global south, belt and road initiative
Authors Alex Read
AbstractAuthor's information

    Social change and introduction of new technologies have historically followed crises such as pandemics, and COVID-19 has seen increasing public tracking through the use of digital surveillance technology. While surveillance technology is a key tool for enhancing virus preparedness and reducing societal risks, the speed of uptake is likely to raise ethical questions where citizens are monitored and personal data is collected. COVID-19 has occurred during a period of democratic decline, and the predominant surveillance-based business model of the ‘platform economy’, together with the development and export of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered surveillance tools, carries particular risks for democratic development in the countries of the Global South. Increased use of surveillance technology has implications for human rights and can undermine the individual privacy required for democracies to flourish. Responses to these threats must come from new regulatory regimes and innovations within democracies and a renewed international approach to the threats across democracies of the Global North and South.


Alex Read
Alex Read, democratic governance consultant for organisations including UNDP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Article

Covid-19 Emergency Prison Release Policy: A Public Health Imperative and a Rule of Law Challenge

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords emergency prison release, rule of law, democracy, reducing prison overcrowding, prisoner rights, appropriate sanctions for white collar criminals, alternatives to custodial sentences
Authors Victoria Jennett
AbstractAuthor's information

    Many countries are implementing emergency releases of people from prison to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Such measures, while critical to public health, can enable the unjust release from prison of politically connected and wealthy individuals convicted of corruption offences, thereby undermining the rule of law and democratic values by weakening public trust in the justice system. To reduce overcrowding of prisons while ensuring that white-collar criminals are appropriately sanctioned, one strategy is to impose alternatives to custodial sentences that ensure appropriate sanctioning of convicted criminals while de-densifying prisons – an approach that could be considered for non-emergency times as well.
    Main points:

    • Emergency prison release mechanisms to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can pose corruption risks owing to weak design, uneven implementation and inadequate oversight.

    • Such releases take three main forms: prisoner amnesties declared by governments; emergency release procedures drafted by governments and implemented by prison directors; and court decisions to release individual prisoners or set out frameworks to determine who is eligible for release.

    • These emergency procedures can enable the unjust release of politically connected prisoners convicted of corruption offences and undermine public trust in the rule of law and the justice system.

    • To help maintain rule of law during the emergency, alternatives to custodial sentences in line with international standards can be imposed on newly released persons who have been convicted of corruption crimes.

    • Conditions attached to releases can include, among others, status penalties, economic sanctions and monetary penalties, confiscation or expropriation of assets, and restitution or compensation to victims.

    • In non-emergency times, as well, alternatives to custodial sentences can be used to sanction those convicted of corruption crimes as a means to mitigate financial and social damage caused by corruption and reduce prison overcrowding.


Victoria Jennett
Dr. Victoria Jennett is an independent consultant to governments and international organisations on justice sector reform. She acknowledges the insights from Sofie Arjon Shuette at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, UNODC colleagues and prison officials in the UK and the USA on an earlier version of this paper.
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