Penal Reform International (PRI) is registered in the Netherlands as an association with non-profit-making status (registration number 40025979).
PRI’s head office is in London, UK, and there are currently five regional offices in Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uganda. PRI employs 11 staff in its head office and over 20 staff in its regional offices.
The key policy and governance bodies of PRI are the General Board and the Executive Board.
The General Board
The General Board comprises at least nine, and not more than fifteen, representatives elected from and by the members of the association. Its composition aims to reflect the different regions of the world and meets once a year to set the policy of the association and approve the audited accounts, the budget, the appointment of the auditor and the elections.
The Board comprises at least nine representatives elected from and by the members of the General Board. Its composition aims to reflect the different regions of the world and meets once a year.
The Executive Board
The General Board elects from its members an Executive Board which must consist of the Chair, the Secretary General, the Treasurer and their deputies. The Executive Board meets at least three times a year.
PRI Board Members
Professor Dirk van Zyl Smit (Chair)
Board member since 2010, Executive Board member since 2013, Chair since 2015
Dirk van Zyl Smit is Professor of Comparative and International Penal Law at the University of Nottingham. Until the end of 2005 he was Professor of Criminology at the University of Cape Town, where he was also Dean of the Faculty of Law from 1990-1995.
In South Africa Professor van Zyl Smit was actively involved in law reform as the primary consultant for the Correctional Services Act 1998 and a member of the National Council on Correctional Services from 1995 to 2004. He was also project leader of the committee of the South African Law Commission investigating sentencing and author of its report and draft legislation: A New Sentencing Framework (2000).
Internationally, he has advised the governments of Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Malawi on new prison legislation and Malaysia on legislation on the international transfer of prisoners. He was expert adviser to the Council of Europe on the European Prison Rules (2006), the European Rules on Juvenile Offenders subject to Sanctions or Measures (2009) and the Recommendation on the Foreign Prisoners (2012). For the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime he prepared its Handbook on Alternatives to Imprisonment (2007) and, with Roisin Mulgrew, the Handbook on the International Transfer of Sentenced Persons (2012).
Professor van Zyl Smit has published extensively on all aspects of sentencing and punishment, including their international and comparative applications. He is currently leading a research project on life imprisonment worldwide, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The first book related to this project, Life Imprisonment and Human Rights, edited with Catherine Appleton, was published in December 2016.
Honourable Justice Muhammad Imman Ali (Secretary-General)
Board member since 2010, Executive Board member since 2015, Secretary-General since 2016
Honourable Justice Muhammad Imman Ali was educated in the UK where he completed both his undergraduate and postgraduate law degrees before qualifying as a barrister. He subsequently practiced law in both Bangladesh and the UK. He was Deputy Attorney General for Bangladesh from 1998 to 2001, before his appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, High Court Division in February 2001, and the Appellate Division in February 2011.
Justice Ali has a particular interest in justice for children and has written a number of articles on this subject. He wrote Towards a Justice Delivery System for Children in Bangladesh, (2010) and contributed a chapter on the new Children Act 2013 in the book Justice for Children in Bangladesh. He has trained the judiciary on issues of justice for children, the Children Act and other legislation, and has provided training to the police, government officials and probation personnel in dealing with victims of trafficking. More of Justice Ali’s articles and publications can be found here.
In June 2016, Justice Ali was appointed Chair of the Supreme Court Special Committee for Child Rights, which was established to oversee the implementation of the Children Act 2013, and to ensure the rights of children as embodied in the constitution and legislation. The Supreme Court Special Committee has initiated ‘Project Connect’ which has connected institutionalised children with their parents/guardians via video link.
As Chairman of the Advisory Committee on prison overcrowding in Bangladesh, Justice Ali hopes to gain from sharing experience from within PRI. He believes that the work PRI undertook on the Bangkok Rules and Mandela Rules has helped to distinguish PRI as a leader in the field.
Professor Anton van Kalmthout (Treasurer)
Board Member since 2010, Executive Board member since 2012, Treasurer since 2012
Anton van Kalmthout obtained his doctoral degree at Tilburg University, and holds the position of Professor in Criminal and Migration Law, also at Tilburg University. He has played an active role in a number of institutions, including the Dutch Probation and Legal Aid organisations, and he was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Tilburg Prison for 15 years.
Prof van Kalmthout has been active as an expert since 1993, for the Council of Europe, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Open Society Institute and the European Union. In this capacity, he was a member of delegations to Armenia, Romania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, White Russia, Bulgaria and Macedonia. Under the authority of the above-mentioned organisations he has provided written comments on the Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Penitentiary Regulations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Croatia and Slovakia. On behalf of the European Union he has written about human rights in Hungary. As an expert for the Council of Europe he was one of the authors of the European Probation Rules. He is a member of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of the Council of Europe.
Prof van Kalmthout has published extensively on alternative sanctions in Europe, pre-trial detention in the EU, foreigners in European prisons, probation and probation services in Europe, sanction systems in the Member-States of the Council of Europe, and juvenile criminal law.
Board Member since 2016
David Fathi is a lawyer who has devoted more than 20 years of his professional career to the representation of prisoners and the struggle for a criminal justice system that is humane, progressive and rehabilitative.
From 2007 until 2010 he was the Director of the US program at Human Rights Watch where he supervised research and advocacy on the death penalty, prison conditions, racial discrimination, the rights of immigrants and other human rights issues. Since 2010 he has served as Director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and from 2012 to 2015 he represented the American Civil Liberties Union in the negotiations leading to the adoption of the United Nations Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’). The ACLU National Prison Project leads Stop Solitary, a national (and increasingly international) campaign to end the abuse of long-term solitary confinement.
David has published and lectured extensively on criminal justice and human rights issues, and wished to become a board member of PRI to be able to share learning with colleagues in other countries, particularly to help colleagues advocate against the kind of punitive policies that have made the US criminal justice system a human rights disaster.
David considers that PRI’s leadership rule in the revision of the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners was invaluable, and has no doubt that the resulting Nelson Mandela Rules are significantly more protective and progressive thanks to PRI’s leadership.
Board Member since 2016
Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa is a human rights lawyer in Kampala, Uganda. She holds a law degree (with honours) from Makerere University in Kampala and a post graduate diploma in law. Roselyn also holds a master’s degree (LL.M) from the University of Pretoria, in which she specialised in human rights and democratisation in Africa.
Ms Karugonjo-Segawa worked for the Uganda Human Rights Commission from 2000 in several posts, and from 2007 to 2013 she held the post of Director of the Directorate of Monitoring and Inspections at the Uganda Human Rights Commission. She currently works as an independent human rights consultant, providing consultancy on numerous issues relating to human rights, the rule of law and good governance. Some key assignments have included working as team leader of the consultancy to support the development of the Uganda National Action Plan on Human Rights, drafting of the Uganda Police Force Human Rights Policy and capacity building on human rights issues for human rights defenders, government officials and members of parliament, among others. She is also a part-time Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Uganda Christian University, Mukono.
Ms. Karugonjo-Segawa joined the board of PRI because she wishes to contribute towards: the creation of efficient criminal justice systems; access to justice; prevention of torture and ill treatment; juvenile justice; abolition of the death penalty; and promoting a gender sensitive and a human rights based approach to detention. She considers the promotion of a human rights based approach to detention invaluable.
Board member since 2010
Dr Natalia Khutorskaya has previously held academic positions at educational and research institutions under the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences, Russian Federation. From 2006 until 2011 she was a member of the Council of Penological Cooperation of the Council of Europe (PC-CP), and from 2012 until 2015 served as a member of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe (CPT). She has written extensively, both in Russian and English, and her research interests concern criminal law, international practices regarding the execution of sentences, and human rights.
Since 2000, Natalia has acted as an expert for the PRI Moscow office, taking part in projects on alternatives to imprisonment. During 2016 she was a member of the working group drafting a model criminal execution code of the Russian Federation, which was based on the academic research and analysis of the Nelson Mandela Rules and European instruments.
Board member since 2016
Paula Litvachky is director of the Centre for Legal and Social Studies’ Justice and Security programme area. She trained as a criminal lawyer, and has extensive research and project coordination experience in criminal justice issues. Paula has overseen research, public policy advocacy and litigation relating to citizen security, police and prison violence, and criminal justice policy.
Paula has worked for a number of years on the promotion and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in Argentina, both nationally and provincially, as well as on the development of national prevention mechanisms in the region. She is currently pursuing doctorate study in human rights at the Universidad de Lanus, Argentina.
John William Nyoka
Board member since 2016
John William Nyoka is a retired civil servant with extensive experience of the prison service, having joined the Prison Service of Tanzania in 1965. He worked in various roles within the Prison Service, attaining the rank of Deputy Commissioner. He has experience working in maximum, medium and minimum security prison settings, with wide inspectorate experience.
From 1994 to 2011 he was seconded to the Namibian Government as a special advisor to restructure the Apartheid South West African Prison Service.
Having worked with Namibian Correctional Service for seventeen years (1994- 2011) he retired from Public Service and initiated an NGO, “Inmate Rehabilitation and Welfare Services-Tanzania(IRaWS-T) heading it as its Executive Director. He is also a Board Member of the Tanzania National Parole Board and the Mzinga Corporation also a columnist for the Daily News government newspaper.
Mr Nyoka wished to join the board of PRI so that he could put provide input relating to much needed African prison reform. The aspect of PRI’s work that he considers to be invaluable if PRI’s work in the introduction of community service orders to African correctional services in a bid to reduce overcrowding.
Board member since 2008
Vera Tkachenko was Director of PRI’s Regional Office for Central Asia from 2001 to 2006. In 2006-2007 as a Chevening Scholar she received her Masters in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics.
Vera currently leads the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime prison reform project in Kyrgyzstan and was previously director of the Legal Policy Research Centre, an independent research institute in Kazakhstan.
Vera has wide experience in criminal justice and penal reform issues in the countries of the former Soviet Union and has provided consultancy on criminal justice issues for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Open Society Institute, Danish Institute for Human Rights and Freedom House.
Professor Robert van Voren
Board member since 2016
Robert van Voren is the Chief Executive of Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP (formerly Global Initiative on Psychiatry). His work as a human rights activist began with defending political prisoners in the former Soviet Union, particularly those detained in psychiatric hospitals. In 1980, he co-founded the International Association on Political Use of Psychiatry and became its General Secretary in 1986. That organization is now called Human Rights in Mental Health.
Robert holds a number of positions on boards of organisations in the fields of human rights, mental health and prison reform. He has written extensively on issues related to mental health and human rights. He is particularly interested in the fields of prison mental health and forensic psychiatry, but also in human rights abuses within the penitentiary system. He joined the board of PRI because he feels that he can contribute to the goals of the organization with his specific expertise, and thus help to make the world a better place, including for those who find themselves behind bars.