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Criminal Justice

Everyone who is accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial—but justice also depends on what happens to suspects before they get to court.   

More than one-third of prisoners around the world—some 3 million people—are held in pretrial detention, sometimes for months or years, often without adequate legal assistance. Many face the threat of violence or torture.  

The Open Society Justice Initiative seeks to promote a rational approach to pretrial justice that protects suspects’ rights to due process, ensures access to legal advice, and reduces the excessive and unnecessary use of detention. We also pursue strategic litigation aimed at eliminating the widespread use of torture by police to extract confessions, and promote measures to safeguard prosecutorial independence and accountability. 

Our approach includes working closely with justice officials, police, and the legal profession on pilot projects that identify ways to ensure public safety while properly protecting the rights of suspects.

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