We are excited to announce that the ILF and its partner PDS-Nepal have been selected as finalists in The World Justice Project’s World Justice Challenge 2022.
The World Justice Challenge 2022: Building More Just Communities is a global competition to identify, recognize and promote good practices and high-impact projects and policies that protect and advance the rule of law. This year’s challenge is dedicated to addressing the root causes of the global rule of law crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Out of 305 submissions representing 118 countries, we are honored that our project, “Decriminalizing Poverty and Marginalization in Nepal: Ending Unjust Fines and Debtors' Prisons” has been selected as one of 30 finalists.
Across Nepal, courts impose fines as a punishment for petty offenses. Those who cannot pay are forced to “pay off” their fines in jail time. This has created a two-tier system of justice that exploits poor and marginalized communities. Our project is focused on combatting this discrimination though litigation, data, and advocacy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers from the Public Defender Society of Nepal (PDS-Nepal) remained on the frontlines of efforts to ensure children and other vulnerable persons were released from dangerous detention facilities. While visiting a juvenile detention center in March 2021, PDS-Nepal’s executive director met a teenager who had been held for three years on a petty misdemeanor theft offense. He had been ordered to pay $3,000 USD and serve 30 days in prison, but that sentence turned into three years due to his inability to pay.
This meeting was the catalyst for a nationwide campaign to address the criminalization of poor and marginalized children in Nepal. For the past year, The ILF and the PDS-Nepal have been working to eliminate the use of debtors’ prisons for children in Nepal by litigating for their release before the Supreme Court. We also conducted a nationwide survey of close to 1,000 children in detention to elevate their voices and experiences with unjust fines, and to advocate for lasting reform in Nepal’s criminal justice system.
To learn more about our project and its impact, please visit our World Justice Challenge Finalists page. You can also attend the World Justice Forum (May 31st - June 2nd, 2022), where all finalists will give presentations on their projects.
A panel of expert judges will select four winning projects and one additional winner will be selected by a network of past World Justice Challenge winners and finalists. The five winning projects will be announced in a live ceremony at the World Justice Forum. Each winning project will receive a $20,000 cash prize.