Justice Reform and the Rule of Law
The Open Society Foundations work to ensure that everyone has access to the protection of the law—and that the law is shaped and employed not as an instrument of power, but in the service of justice.
2019 Justice Reform and the Rule of Law Budget by Region
The Open Society Foundations support efforts to develop national policing and criminal justice systems that treat everyone equally. We promote community-based work to expand access to civil justice and legal services, and back innovative approaches to public safety issues.
We also work to extend the ability of the law to address transnational issues such as corruption, and to seek accountability for atrocity crimes, including through support for the International Criminal Court and international human rights tribunals.
In some countries, criminal suspects who pose no threat to others may spend several years in jail awaiting a court date that never comes. Lengthy detention puts suspects’ health at risk and damages their economic well-being. It also adds to the costs of the justice system. As part of our efforts to end unnecessary detention, the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa has backed efforts in East Africa to change colonial era laws that target petty offenses such as loitering. Open Society-U.S. support groups that promote pretrial release without cash bail.
The Open Society Foundations have been an active supporter of the International Criminal Court, and of broader efforts to ensure that national courts can prosecute war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This includes the Open Society Justice Initiative’s International Justice Monitor, which seeks to connect complex legal proceedings to the communities most affected.
In the United States, a punitive approach to drug policy has fueled unacceptably high levels of mass incarceration, and disproportionately affected the African American community. Similar patterns can be found elsewhere in the world. The Open Society Foundations support groups that fight for the reform of mandatory sentencing for drug crimes, and we work with local authorities and police to promote an approach to drug use that focuses on safety and the health of users, rather than suppression.
In many countries around the world, police officers routinely single out members of minority communities for identity checks, body searches, or other forms of harassment. In Western Europe and the United States, the Open Society Foundations support local groups that seek to end these practices, while the Open Society Justice Initiative has pursued litigation on the issue in France, Spain, and at the European Court of Human Rights.
Gender Justice Now
Women Will Not Be Silent
By now, the link between authoritarianism and the repression of women and gender nonconforming people is clear. But those targeted by such hateful politics cannot—and will not—be intimidated.
A Pivotal Decade for the Movement to End the “War on Drugs”
Over the past decade, Open Society’s Global Drug Policy Program has supported reformers all over the world as they organize against the worst effects of the failed “war on drugs.” The future is bright, but challenges remain.
No State Accountability for North Carolina Contractor Who Helped CIA Torture
While far too much of the CIA’s activities during the presidency of George W. Bush remains hidden from the public, a new report helps to fill the gap by taking a closer look at North Carolina’s involvement.