As gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, prosecutors are its most powerful officials. Prosecutors’ considerable discretion – about whom to charge and for which crimes – affects the lives and fate of thousands of criminal suspects, and the safety and security of all citizens.
Yet, in South Africa, no dedicated oversight and accountability mechanism scrutinises the activities of the country’s prosecutors. Constructive oversight can assist the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to enhance both its performance and public confidence in its work.
The paper reviews a number of prosecutorial accountability mechanisms drawing on real-world examples. These mechanisms are assessed and their applicability to the South African context is critically explored.