This module is a resource for lecturers   




The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of between 30 and 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before providing feedback to the entire class. Although it is theoretically possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to simply ask students to self-organize into groups of five or six by turning to the other students sitting close to them. When feedback is required, the lecturer should use discretion, because not all groups will be able to provide feedback every time. The lecturer should make random selections and try to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students’ prior knowledge and exposure to these issues varies widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The difficulty level and length of some exercises can be modified. For such exercises possible modifications are included in the lecturer guidelines. 

Exercise 1: Prior knowledge [25 minutes]

The purpose of this exercise is to informally assess student’s prior knowledge of the key concepts, before presenting the more detailed information outlined in the Module.

Lecturer guidelines

Provide each student with an index card and ask them to write their response to the following question:

What is the significance of human rights in the context of criminal justice?

Allow students five minutes to record their answers, and then collect all cards and shuffle these. Read several of the answers, pausing after each one to engage the class in further discussion. This is an excellent opportunity to open discussion about assumptions (i.e. have students shared views that indicate that they believe recognized offenders or prisoners are somehow less deserving of human rights protections? Have students made gendered assumptions regarding prisoner populations, for example, or victims? Have students focused mainly on negative human rights obligations (i.e. the obligation to refrain from torture), while overlooking positive obligations (i.e. the right to education). After discussing some of these cards, a follow-up question to the class might be:

What are the human rights instruments that are relevant to the field of crime prevention and criminal justice?

This will be a good opportunity to test how many instruments (conventions, as well as standards and norms) students know. It is also a good opportunity to remind students that all human rights instruments are relevant to the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. A brief reminder about the moral grounds for human rights would be appropriate here. We all hold human rights, by virtue of our humanity. A person accused, alleged or recognized as having breached the law is no less entitled to human rights provisions. On the contrary, international human rights law enumerates specific protections for individuals in conflict with the law: see, inter alia, CAT, ICCPR, CRC (as well as the full range of UN Standards and Norms on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice discussed in this Module). [20 min lecturer-facilitated discussion]


Exercise 2: Case Analysis - Corinna Horvath Case (Australia) [25 minutes – with additional pre-class component]

In 1996, a young woman opened the door of her home to two police officers who sought to investigate whether the woman’s car, which had previously been deemed unroadworthy, had recently been driven. The woman and her companion refused to cooperate with police and used force to make them leave the property. A short time later eight police officers returned to the house, kicked the front door open, and beat the two occupants of the house. The young woman sustained a fractured nose, other facial injuries, and bruising and abrasions to her body - injuries which required that she be hospitalized.

The Corinna Horvath Case (Australia) is one in which an international legal mechanism (the individual complaints mechanism of the HRC) offered redress (in the absence of an effective remedy at the domestic level).

Lecturer guidelines

Pre-class component – Request that students read the HRC Communication, and reflect, and make notes, on:

  • what are the international human rights standards in this case that apparently have been violated;
  • how international human rights monitoring and complaints mechanisms work;
  • a broader analysis of which standards and norms (based on their understanding) would be engaged by the case.

In-class component – The lecturer should nominate students to answer one or more of the questions and encourage discussion (engaging with issues of police accountability, gender, presumption of innocence, etc, beyond the more obvious use of force). [25 minutes]

Further details on the use of force are available in Module 4 on The Use of Force and Firearms of the E4J University Module Series on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.


Exercise 3: Group Exercise on Preventing Gender Bias in the Judiciary [47 minutes]

Play the podcast of the Global Judicial Integrity Network: Preventing Gender Bias in the Judiciary [12 minutes]. Think of the following issues:

  • Why is it important to prevent gender bias in the judiciary?
  • What are the key strategies to prevent gender bias in the judiciary?
  • What are the key impediments to this project?

Lecturer guidelines

Divide the class into groups of four students, and designate them as Group 1, 2, 3, etc. Each group, having discussed the respective issues (see (a), (b) and (c) above), and reached agreement, is to write up their conclusions on posters, and display them on the class walls. [Allow students 10 minutes for discussion, and five minutes to prepare their poster].

All students should be asked to move around the room to read all the posters. This is followed by class discussion, facilitated by the lecturer, to consider how the findings of the groups relate to the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice standards, and the extent to which they are recognized/operationalized in the law and practice of the home country. [18 minutes reading and discussion].


Exercise 4: Student roundtable on prison reform [variable time – in-class and pre-class component]

Students are asked to work in groups of four to prepare for a roundtable discussion on the international legal framework relevant to prison reform. To conduct this effectively, students should compile the following:

  • A complete list of the International Human Rights Conventions and UN standards and norms that address conditions of imprisonment (with pinpoint references provided).
  • A complete list of the UNODC tools and publications that pertain to this issue – with relevant points highlighted.
  • An understanding of the legal/policy framework that governs imprisonment in their own country (with a sense, for example, of whether the country is pursuing a plan of reducing incarceration, or whether new prisons are being built; and to understand whether the State is party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), for example). Students should be encouraged to look at the reports of relevant treaty monitoring bodies to gain insights into how well practice, in their country, aligns with international law.

Lecturer guidelines

This exercise is suitable for classes that run over several days or weeks. Much of the work should be conducted between classes (a combination of independent research and group discussion). For each class, at least 15 minutes should be allocated to allow for group discussion, so that lecturers can check on group progress. The exercise can culminate in a written report, or a roundtable in class, depending on the time available. 

When first introducing the exercise, lecturers should ensure that students know how to access a printed or a digital copy of the relevant UN standards and norms, along with the core human rights instruments. (Having given broad direction, it would be best to allow students to access these themselves, as the research is part of the task). Also ensure that students know how to access the websites for the relevant human rights monitoring bodies, and refer students to the UNODC webpage that lists the relevant tools and publications.

At their first meeting, students should allocate clear roles within the group, and one person should be nominated as the roundtable participant (in addition to assuming a research/analysis role of their own).

Conducting the roundtable: The duration of the roundtable will depend on the class size, (the number of groups), and the extent to which students have engaged with the issues in detail. Lecturers who are unable to accommodate a roundtable within class time can ask students to provide a written presentation (speaking notes with full references).


Exercise 5: Law Reform Summit [variable time – in class and pre-class component]

Students should be assigned to work in pairs, they should then choose a country and access recent human rights reports by international bodies. The task, which is to be largely completed in their own time, requires that they identify one area in which, according to these reports, the country fails to meet international standards (within the scope of UN standards and norms). Next, they should identify relevant UN standards and norms and make proposals for law reform. Students should be encouraged to write this as a conference presentation, in which they first set out the challenges, and then the proposal for law reform. Advanced students may wish to engage in comparative work, in which they illustrate the efficacy of similar laws in other jurisdictions.

Lecturer guidelines

When first introducing the exercise, lecturers should ensure that students know how to access the websites of the relevant Treaty Monitoring Bodies, as well as the relevant UN standards and norms, and the core human rights instruments (Having given broad direction, it would be best to allow students to access these themselves, as the research is part of the task). Also ensure that students know how to access the UNODC webpage that lists the relevant tools and publications. Lecturers should allocate 20 minutes to introduce the exercise, assign students to pairs, and ensure that students can access the relevant materials. In the subsequent class (the day of the summit), pairs should present for eight minutes in total (four minutes per student). The duration of the summit will depend on the class size. Lecturers may wish to allocate additional time to allow students to ask questions (about the feasibility of the proposed reforms, for example, or whether these new laws may bear unintended consequences).

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