Promoting Justice /
Protecting Rights

CAJ’s work

How CAJ works

Collaboration

Engages with a large range of stakeholders through alliances such as the Equality Coalition.

Lobbying

Lobbies and campaigns at all levels to effect change, influencing legislators and officials in Stormont, Westminster, Geneva, Brussels, Washington and elsewhere.

Research

Carries out high quality research to inform its reports and publications.

Monitoring

Monitors the work and policies of government and public authorities in Northern Ireland in relation to their human rights standards.

Legal

CAJ provides information, advice and, where appropriate, representation to victims of human rights abuses in Northern Ireland, and monitors the handling of past human rights abuses. We have a qualified solicitor on our staff team to provide advice and representation.
We take cases in our own name, on behalf of affected persons and intervene in cases which raise matters of strategic public interest.
We also regularly make submissions to domestic and international oversight bodies including UN treaty monitoring bodies and the Council of Europe.

The objectives of CAJ

Highest standards

To secure the highest standards in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland,  to defend and advance civil liberties and the rights and freedoms recognised by international human rights law, to monitor the operation of the system  of justice and to campaign for reforms.

Independent

CAJ is non party political and non-profit making and takes no money from the state.

Co-operation

To give co-operation, assistance and encouragement on an international basis to the defence and advancement of civil liberties and the rights and freedoms recognised by international human rights law.

CAJ's Key Areas of Concern

CAJ focuses on the human rights issues that are related to peace or conflict. That can involve the whole spectrum of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. Currently our main concerns are:

Combating Impunity

“Impunity” is the term used for a systemic failure to hold people, especially state agents, accountable for human rights violations. It is hugely destructive of the rule of law and erodes faith in the justice system and state institutions in general.

Freedom of Expression

The freedoms of expression and assembly are closely related and represent one of the basic pillars of a democratic society. These freedoms are frequently amongst the prime targets of authoritarian or populist governments and are routinely denied in many countries across the world.

Accountable Policing and Justice

At its broadest, the concept of contemporary accountability refers to the “guarantees of non-recurrence” of major human rights violations established following a conflict. It involves many areas of society but with the common aim of establishing a fair and just system in which all people can have trust and confidence.

Equality

Equality is a basic human right and in many ways can be seen as underpinning all others. For convenience we often use the phrase “human rights and equality,” but such is the concept’s fundamental character that we should say “human rights including equality” or perhaps “equality and all other human rights.”

Protecting Human Rights and the Peace Settlement

This area of work was an unplanned addition to our priorities in 2016. Although we regarded the threatened repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a “British” Bill of Rights of unknown content as a threat both to human rights in general and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in particular.

International

CAJ has always based its policy stance on international human rights standards. These are contained in global and regional treaties and conventions (known as “hard law”) and in a plethora of standards, treaty body comments, committee of experts commentaries, reports by UN Special Rapporteurs and so on (known as “soft law”).

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