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Justice For All: Decisive Action to Reform Laws that Criminalize Poverty and Status

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Criminal justice systems and incarceration continue to disproportionately affect segments of society that are living in poverty and/or are marginalized, including Black, indigenous, and other racial and ethnic communities. Work has accelerated in countries around the world, though, through court action and legislative reform, to change national laws that criminalize people for who they are, rather than for what they have done.

This side event at the next session of the UN Crime Commission provides an opportunity for UN bodies, member states, and civil society actors to set out clear goals for the decisive action needed to decriminalize poverty and status, linked to the work of the Commission and other international mechanisms and initiatives.


  • Dominique Day


    Dominique Day is chairperson of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

  • Olivier De Schutter


    Olivier De Schutter is UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

  • Motsamai Makume


    Motsamai Makume is chairperson of the board of directors of Legal Aid South Africa and is a judge of the High Court of South Africa.

  • Janeille Matthews


    Janeille Matthews is a lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

  • Nathália Oliveira


    Nathália Oliveira is co-founder of Black Initiative for a New Drug Policy.

  • Rachel Rossi


    Rachel Rossi is deputy associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • Jennifer Smith


    Jennifer Smith is executive director of the International Legal Foundation.

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