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Explorations Towards Accessible and Equitable Justice in the South Asian Region: Problems and Paradoxes of Penal Reform

NCJ Number
Rani D. Shankardass
Date Published
50 pages
This assessment of criminal justice policies and practices in the countries of the South Asian region focuses on the efforts of penal reform designed to achieve equitable and accessible justice.
The paper first notes that the countries of South Asia share a history and civilization that has contributed to the evolution of common problems. This assessment of the problems and promise of criminal and penal justice in South Asian countries focuses on progress in achieving better, speedier, more equitable, and more accessible justice to those who need it. The assessment addresses policing, including arrest and investigative procedures; the exploration of bail and jail alternatives; judicial processes and procedures; and prisons and their conditions. The countries that are the focus of this assessment are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. This paper critiques the police, courts, and corrections of these countries not only in terms of their effectiveness in controlling crime but also in terms of international standards of fairness and human rights. The suggested features for penal reform are linked to restorative justice, alternative dispute resolution, informal justice, alternatives to custody, alternative ways of dealing with juveniles, a reduction in violent crime, a reduction in the prison population, the proper management of prisons, and the role of civil society in penal reform. 9 tables, 1 figure, 23 references, and appended supplementary information