Criminal law

Justice Reform and the Rule of Law

The Open Society Foundations help expand countrywide policing and criminal justice systems that deal with everybody equally. We sell community-based work to enlarge admission to civil justice and prison services and lower back revolutionary procedures to public safety issues. We also paintings to extend the capability of the law to cope with transnational troubles along with corruption and seek responsibility for atrocity crimes, including via support for the International Criminal Court and global human rights tribunals.


In some nations, crook suspects who pose no danger to others may additionally spend numerous years in prison looking forward to a courtroom date that by no means comes. Lengthy detention puts suspects’ health at risk and damages their financial properly-being. It also provides to the costs of the justice device. As a part of our efforts to cease needless detention, the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa has subsidized efforts in East Africa to trade colonial technology laws that focus on petty offenses along with loitering. Open Society-U.S. Support corporations that promote pretrial launch without coins bail.

The Open Society Foundations have been a lively supporter of the International Criminal Court and broader efforts to ensure that countrywide courts can prosecute war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This consists of the Open Society Justice Initiative’s International Justice Monitor, which seeks to connect complicated felony proceedings to the communities most affected.

In the USA, a punitive approach to drug policy has fueled unacceptably excessive stages of mass incarceration and disproportionately affected the African American network. However, similar styles may be discovered somewhere else within the world. The Open Society Foundations assist organizations that fight for the reform of obligatory sentencing for drug crimes. We work with nearby government and police to promote a technique to drug use that specializes in safety and customers’ fitness in place of suppression.

In many nations worldwide, police officers robotically single out members of minority groups for identity exams, frame searches, or different kinds of harassment. In Western Europe and America, the Open Society Foundations support local organizations looking to stop these practices, whilst the Open Society Justice Initiative has pursued litigation on the issue in France, Spain, and the European Court of Human Rights. According to criminal law, crimes are offenses against the social order. In common law jurisdictions, there is a legal fiction that crimes disturb the peace of the sovereign. Therefore, government officials, as agents of the sovereign, are responsible for the prosecution of offenders.

Hence, the criminal law “plaintiff” is the sovereign, which in practical terms translates into the monarch or the people. The major objective of criminal law is deterrence and punishment, while that of civil law is individual compensation. Criminal offenses consist of two distinct elements; the physical act (the actus reus, guilty act) and the requisite mental state with which the act is done (the men’s rea, guilty mind).

For example, in murder, the ‘actus reus is the unlawful killing of a person, while the ‘men’s rea is malice aforethought (the intention to kill or cause grievous injury). The criminal law also details the defenses that defendants may bring to lessen or negate their liability (criminal responsibility) and specifies the punishment which may be inflicted. Criminal law neither requires a victim, nor a victim’s consent, to prosecute an offender. Furthermore, a criminal prosecution can occur over the victim’s objections, and the victim’s consent is not a defense in most crimes.

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