The Governance and Justice Group (GJG) was founded in 2009 – inspired by the work and vision of the late Ahmed Othmani (co-founder and president of Penal Reform International) – as a free association of individual practitioners who share a common purpose based on the preamble to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, namely that: ‘it is essential if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…’. Their work focuses on the administration of criminal justice because it is, as Cherif Bassiouni put it, ‘the field of battle in which democracy and human rights are tested … [and] encompasses all processes and practices by which a state affects, curtails, or removes basic rights.’
Upon invitation, they offer support to governments, institutions and others who seek to apply the principles embedded in UN Conventions to the practical context of their own country. Their work is context specific and solution-oriented directed at ensuring ordinary people (and particularly those on the margins of society) have a voice and are able to apply to the law to exercise their rights. They have learned that the problems affecting justice systems the world over are common, though they may differ in degree: justice as a ‘sector’ is messy (comprising: politics, inherent tensions - justice v security and multiple service providers/institutions); justice providers do not co-ordinate very well so the system does not function efficiently or effectively or fairly to all; and the symptoms of dysfunction are often manifest as a slow or corrupt process with long case backlogs and prisons congested with people who are poor rather than dangerous.
Their approach is grounded in evidence: what is the real situation; and the political economy: how might it be improved. They bring a body of collective experience of what has worked in other countries and link people to the practitioners who have innovated them.
Where is Governance and Justice Group (GJG)