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Justice and Accountability in Africa

Over the past four years, CGHR has dedicated research to a range of subjects it had grouped under the theme Right to Life.  This was largely the space in which researchers at the Centre provided material research assistance to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (2010-16). It provided an opportunity for researchers to reflect on the question, how can one of the most fundamental of human rights be better protected, or what kind of interventions might lead to a reduction in levels of “unlawful killings”, particularly in Africa.

One heuristic which was frequently employed by the Special Rapporteur, and which was underlined in CGHR’s research report Unlawful Killings in Africa, was the extent to which ensuring the right to life has two key dimensions – a prospective (preventative) dimension and a retrospective (accountability) dimension. These two dimensions are mutually reinforcing, in that preventative steps to stop violations from happening lessen the need constantly to be pursuing accountability for violations, while doing accountability properly may well deter future violations, and may give practical recommendations on how better to prevent future violations. This was underlined by CGHR research on the link between impunity and The Safety of Journalists. More recently a team of researchers at CGHR explored the ways in which new information communications technologies could be used to assist in the pursuit of accountability.

While being a central element in the protection of human rights, accountability is also a core purpose of the project of international justice. At a time when the ICC is under criticism especially by African political elites for its selective bias, Critical Transitional Justice is important in providing evidence on victims’ and citizens’ understanding and agency during the implementation of transitional justice programmes at the everyday level. The complexities and frictions presented in the Kenya project provides new evidence on the agency of local actors in undermining the ICC. This research illustrates the effects of the ICC interventions beyond The Hague and introduces everyday vernacular discourses of transitional justice.  

Teaser Njoki's Project

Critical Transitional Justice

This sub-theme focuses on understanding the frictions and adaptions that emerge in the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms from a critical perspective that is African-centred and decolonial.


Thomas' research2

Prevention and Investigation of unlawful killings

This sub-theme contains past research projects grouped under the theme Right to Life, such as ICT's and the Right to Life, Unlawful Killings in Africa, The Safety of Journalists and Freedom for Violence.