Diversion Programmes in the African Context webinar 16 December 2021.

Hosted by GLEPHA and co-auspiced by Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Incarceration Nations Network.

It is recognized globally that punishment and coercion are not effective responses when dealing with law violations that happen because people are living with unmet behavioral health needs or in extreme poverty. Public safety is often better served not through criminal sanctions, but by focused person-centered responses which provide appropriate responses, supports, and services to people suffering from substance use disorders, mental health needs, living in extreme poverty, or who are homeless.

Public safety goals are often better be served through public health responses than through the criminal justice system, and that the earlier these responses take hold the better. This has led to a strong movement towards diversion programmes for people who have committed violations of the law for these reasons, and moving their cases from the criminal justice system into an alternative response. While this movement started out being court based, it has since moved to be up-front and forward facing in the criminal-legal system – programmes now often kick in alternative responses at the point of contact between police and offender. There is often a strong push at the community level to include non-governmental agencies in this work: this has allowed for a community voice and a recognition that those with lived experience must have a seat at the table.

This global shift from a punitive approach to a public health response is also true on the continent of Africa. There have been homegrown efforts, as well as opportunities for replication of initiatives that have proven effective in other parts of the world. These diversion efforts into a public health response have kept human rights on the forefront of responding to vulnerable people.

To highlight these efforts, this webinar includes a diverse field of experts to discuss what diversion looks like in the African context. This include current initiatives as well as potential partnerships that are in the works. Furthermore, these discussions will explore how the pandemic has highlighted the need and importance of diversion programmes in 2021.

Moderated by Pro. Baz Dreisinger with speakers Brendan Cox, Hon. Justice Zione Ntaba, Martin Schonteich and Sabrina Mahtani.

Follow this link to view the webinar recording