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.
To Strengthen the Rule of Law, Protect the Independence of Prosecutors
The case of Laura Codruţa Kövesi at the European Court of Human Rights underlines the importance of prosecutorial independence in protecting the rule of law.
Acquittal Marks Advance for Struggle against Torture in Brazil
A criminal court in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has for the first time acknowledged the validity of internationally agreed standards on effective legal and medical investigations into allegations of torture—resulting in the acquittal of seven torture survivors who had been tried for drugs-related charges.
Why the Overuse of Pretrial Detention Is an Overlooked Human Rights Crisis
Every year, millions find themselves behind bars, awaiting trial on criminal charges—victims of what is perhaps the most overlooked human rights crisis of our time: the overuse of pretrial detention.
Bumbeș v. Romania
Together with Greenpeace Romania, the Justice Initiative argues that activist Mihail-Liviu Bumbeș should not have been required to give three days notice when he and three others chained themselves to the gate of a Romanian government building.
Claudia Medina v. Secretaría de Marina and Fiscalia General de la República
The Mexican Navy has committed systemic patterns of torture and sexual violence with the rubber stamp approval of the prosecutor's office.
Khadzhiyev and Muradova v. Turkmenistan
This case challenged the arbitrary killing of Ogulsapar Muradova, a journalist and human rights activist, who was tortured and died in custody in Turkmenistan in September 2006.
New Report Takes Stock of Court Reparations Rulings across Latin America
Courts across Latin America have developed innovative approaches to the challenge of delivering reparations to the victims of violence. A new report outlines lessons learned.
Regulating Police Stop and Search: An Evaluation of the Northamptonshire Police: Reasonable Grounds Panel—Fact Sheet
This fact sheet outlines how unique initiative between police and community members in Northamptonshire, UK has resulted in a more lawful and effective use of stop and search.
Regulating Police Stop and Search: An Evaluation of the Northamptonshire Police Reasonable Grounds Panel
This report outlines how a unique initiative between police and community members in Northamptonshire, UK has resulted in a more lawful and effective use of stop and search.
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