The Alternatives project is jointly implemented with Penal Reform International (PRI) for the period 1st February 2013 – 30th March 2016. The project is a regional initiative and is built on previous work by PRI and FHRI on Juvenile Justice and the promotion of Alternatives to imprisonment. The project seeks to promote humane and fair treatment of vulnerable people (children and women) in conflict and in contact with the law. The project currently covers the following themes; alternatives to imprisonment, juvenile Justice, and women offenders and Bangkok Rules.
The project is designed with the following three objectives:
- To promote child-friendly justice systems;
- To promote a more sensitive way of dealing with women offenders (specifically to implement the UN ‘Bangkok Rules’ for women);
- To promote sharing of best practice and dialogue on criminal justice reform within the region.
The project is implemented under four key activities namely;
- Baseline survey
In 2014 FHRI-PRI embarked on a study into the characteristic of female offenders in Uganda, the study was undertaken to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge about female offenders in Uganda. A report on the status of female offenders entitled, ‘Who are women prisoners? Survey results from Uganda’, 2015 was published under this initiative. This joint research report is based on a survey of 194 women in prison in Uganda (10 per cent of the total female prison population) carried out by FHRI between August 2014 and February 2015. The findings were presented by FHRI and discussed at the 24th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna-Austria from the 18th – 22nd May 2015. The same report was launched at a stakeholder roundtable on the UN rules for the treatment of women prisoners and non‑custodial measures for women offenders (Bangkok Rules) which was held on 9th July 2015 at Hotel Africana, Kampala. The report will in future support prison policy and practice advocacy for reforms.
- Capacity building
During implementation of the project, FHRI has engaged with juvenile justice actors on promoting restorative justice for juveniles, engaged stakeholders in dialogue on international standards and guidelines for the treatment of girls in the criminal justice system at regional level and conducted trainings for prison staff and other relevant stakeholders on the application of the UN Bangkok rules for the treatment of women prisoners and Non-custodial measures for women offenders. Some of the initiatives under this include a Juvenile Justice Workshop convened to commemorate 25 years of the Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC) on 27th November 2014, Africana Hotel. FHRI will on 22nd and 23rd October 2015 hold a prisons training Workshop on the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial measures for women offenders (Bangkok Rules) at Royal Suites Hotel, Bugolobi.
- Advocacy and Networking
The project developed and sustains the East African Criminal Justice Civil society network e-network which promotes best practice, information updates and dialogue on criminal justice reform in the region, including specific initiatives on alternatives to imprisonment, juvenile justice and the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules). The project uses East Africa Criminal Justice Civil Society Network Newsletter as part of its information dissemination strategy amongst the e-network of criminal justice actors in the region. The thematic focus of the newsletter is alternatives to imprisonment, juvenile justice and the Bangkok Rules. The project has created the East Africa Criminal Justice Civil Society e-network of regional child rights activists in East Africa who are championing the implementation of child friendly justice systems and promoting the rights of women offenders using the UN Bangkok rules. The project has mainstreamed gender in the penal reform campaign and as a result it has contributed to creating awareness of the UN Bangkok Rules on the treatment of female offenders, both at the regional and international level.