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Rights-Based Justice

Increased pressure on human rights is experienced in particular by people who have traditionally been marginalised in society, including those that are depending on protection from the state, for example prisoners, survivors of gender based violence, victims as well as ex-offenders. In most societies, we witness a trend towards more focus on security, punishment and protecting rules and procedures instead of people. The examples are manifold: from the shift towards more repressive detention regimes to authorities that focus on chasing fraud instead of fighting discrimination and institutional racism. These trends have a huge impact on people’s lives, in particular of those people in society that are already in an underprivileged position. It leads to more poverty and exclusion and less safe societies. At the same time, most governments are, at least on paper, committed to respecting international human rights standards.

We see their commitment, and sometimes strong political will to comply, as an opportunity to hold authorities accountable and to support catalysts of change in the justice system to ensure access to justice and to execute criminal sanctions in a humane and rights-respecting way. Our ambition is that by 2026 we have contributed to strengthening the capacity of key-actors in the justice chain to uphold fundamental rights; more attention to the well-being and rehabilitation or restoration of those affected by crime and conflict – both victims and offenders; and increased collaboration in the whole justice chain. This will contribute to our ultimate goal, which is to have justice systems that are inclusive, effective and humane.

What we do

Advancing Justice and Accountability in Ukraine: Strengthening and Support of the Prison System
Facilitating the development of humane, effective, and responsive justice systems in Ukraine
Assistance in Implementing the Strategy of the Penal System in the Republic of Armenia (AISPIRA)
AISPIRA aims to create the essential conditions to modernise prison and probation in a consistent, realistic, sustainable way in Armenia
EPTA II: Innovating Together: Connecting European Penitentiary Training Academies
EPTA II focuses on innovating and building further on connections between the members of the European Penitentiary Training Academies network.
Giving Back: Bridging the gap towards child-friendly justice in closed institutions
Aiming to increase youth participation in the training of justice professionals to create more a child-friendly justice system.
J-CAP: Judicial cooperation for the enhancement of mutual recognition regarding probation measures and alternative sanctions
The transnational J-CAP project aims to enhance mutual recognition and regarding probation measures and alternative sanctions.
Justice Reform Monitoring in Armenia (JUREMONIA)
JUREMONIA aims to strengthen the capacity and advocacy skills of CSOs and empowering them to effectively engage in the justice system reform.
Our Stories Matter: Children Participation in Policy and Decision-making in Prisons
OSM aims to structurally embed meaningful, inclusive and safe children’s participation in policy design and implementation processes at local and national level in prisons in the Netherlands
Probation and Alternative Sanctions in Ukraine
The project, that takes place in the Kievskaya Oblast, aims to further develop the capacities of the Ukrainian Probation Service. In making this service fully operational, the project focuses on capacity building in all afore mentioned probation practices.
Together against Discrimination: Building a Civil Society Coalition to Improve Access to Justice for Victims of Discrimination
Aims to build a Civil Society Coalition to improve access to justice for victims of discrimination in Turkey.
Towards a Recognition Mechanism: Healing for Victims of Sexual Violence
This project aims to better understand the need for a recognition mechanism that can help survivors to feel supported and acknowledged.
EQUAL – EU 4 Women Empowerment in Armenia
EQUAL – EU 4 Women Empowerment in Armenia (EQUAL) aims to elevate and empower women in Armenia to bring about societal change.

How we work

In order to achieve this ultimate goal, we will focus on the following intervention strategies:

  • Strengthening the capacities and cooperation of actors in the justice chain (police, defence lawyers, prosecution, judiciary, correctional services and civil society), by facilitating joint projects and learning and exchange aimed at applying a rights-based approach;
  • Advising and advocating for reforms with Ministries of Justice, Health, Interior and Education on how to create justice systems that are compliant with human rights standards and best international practices and by supporting the adoption and effective implementation of rights-based policies and procedures;
  • Better monitoring on (non)compliance with international standards and increased awareness in society by supporting the work of organisations, institutes and individuals with watchdog functions, such as human rights institutions, ombudsmen, equality bodies, civil society and lawyers;
  • Integrating an intersectional approach and targeted projects for those rights-holders that are in urgent need of vocal and direct support. Building on our track record, we especially focus on: humane conditions and reintegration of prisoners, participation of children in decision-making, and access to justice for women affected by gender-based violence. Reintegration also considers which alternative forms to detention may be more suitable and how their use can be amplified;
  • Innovation and advocacy in the Netherlands: By building on best practices and action-research, we continue to develop new models and policy proposals aimed at making justice chains more humane, inclusive and future-oriented. We want to counter the trend towards more repressive prison regimes, starting in the country where we are based.


Our track record

Balkans Act Now!
Changing Landscapes: Prison Education Consortium Netherlands
Civil Society Countering Violent Extremism in Albania
Countering Discrimination and Protecting LGBTI Rights in Albania
Enhancing professionalism in the Libyan Prison Service
EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme For Eastern Partnership
Improvement of Prison Conditions for Reintegration of Juvenile Detainees in Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo
Introduction of Correctional and Therapeutical Programmes for Work with Juvenile Offenders at the Reformatory in Boychinovtsi, Bulgaria
Harm Reduction in the Prison System in Turkey
Management of the Organisational Ethos and the Development of Human Resources within the Croatian Ministry of Justice – Prison Administration
Management support to European Organization of Prison and Correctional Services (EuroPris)
Promoting a Victim-Centered Approach in Trafficking Cases in Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Promotion of the Rights of Trafficked Persons in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia with Emphasis on Legal Support – A Human Rights-Based Approach
Promotion of the Rights of Trafficked Persons in Serbia with an Emphasis on Legal Support – a Human Rights Based Approach
Support to the enforcement, probation and rehabilitation systems in Moldova
Support to the probation service and the system of alternative sanctions in Montenegro
Strengthening the Response to Domestic Violence in Armenia
Tackling Gaps in Cross-Border Cooperation for Penitentiary Training Academies
Towards a Safe, Stimulating and Rehabilitative Prison Environment for Children and Juveniles in Conflict with the Law in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia
Strengthening the Probation and the System of Alternative Sanctions in Montenegro and Serbia

Working together

We believe no one can achieve things alone. That is why we see the power of connecting different actors and collaboration as we work towards building and securing justice across Europe. If you are interested in collaborating with us in improving criminal justice reform, contact the Programme staff below:

Programme Staff: