Despite grave and persistent rights violations in criminal justice systems around the world, effective reform remains a problem in many countries. The Open Society Global Criminal Justice Fund seeks to strengthen civil society engagement in the protection of the rights of criminal defendants and in confronting the overuse of pretrial detention. The fund supports civil society efforts to build networks, share experience, and identify new strategies for criminal justice reform.
The Global Criminal Justice Fund provides support to national campaigns that combine monitoring, legal defense and advocacy to catalyze new policy debates. The fund also supports linkages between national efforts and international and regional partners to develop centers of expertise, exchange best practices, and explore failures. Priority is given to projects in countries where there are deteriorating conditions of detention and evidence of pervasive discrimination within the system.
The Global Criminal Justice Fund supports groups based on the following priorities:
Understanding the Scope of the Problem
A lack of access to places of detention and information about detainees poses serious challenges to successful criminal justice reform. Data is needed to design interventions, demand accountability, address problems of coordination within the system, and provide a basis for challenging illegal detention. The fund supports groups to gain access to places of detention, monitor the system, and assess the effectiveness of existing legal aid in order to promote greater accountability and obtain reliable and credible data about the scope and scale of the problem.
Ensuring Access to Justice
By providing assistance to detainees in a systematic manner, such as filing bail applications or providing legal assistance, civil society groups can learn what works in practice and which kinds of interventions might be effective in producing long-term change. The fund supports groups to undertake this kind of engagement in order to identify successful strategies and possible openings for, or barriers to, reform. Where appropriate, the fund also supports litigation on behalf of detainees that challenges unlawful practices.
Making the Case for Reform
Civil society groups must engage with governments to advance meaningful policy change. Where existing government efforts are entirely inadequate, civil society organization must be able to devise strategies to ensure that the rights of criminal defendants are on the government’s reform agenda. The fund supports civil society groups to undertake advocacy efforts either individually or in coalition with other groups to protect the rights of those in detention.
Building Links to Regional and International Debates
The fund supports partners that aim to prioritize the rights of criminal defendants in regional and international debates about rule of law and human rights. By identifying national groups with links to international and regional networks, the fund seeks to increase the profile of criminal justice issues globally while at the same time expanding international partners’ ability to galvanize existing networks and engage in targeted advocacy.
The fund focuses its support on those countries where the need is greatest, and where due process rights intersect with questions of equality and human dignity. The fund works with organizations that can share their experience and build partnerships beyond their own borders in order to contribute to learning and the development of good practice.
To apply for a grant from the Open Society Global Criminal Justice Fund, interested organizations should send a two- to three-page concept paper to email@example.com. The paper should include the following:
- A brief description of the project goals and planned activities;
- Information about the applicant organization and project partners;
- An estimated overall budget and timeframe of the project.
The initiative will aim to respond to concept papers within one month of receipt. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal for consideration.