Transitional justice in Africa: Traditional and modern approaches to addressing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
De Ycaza, Carla
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The term transitional justice generally refers to a range of judicial and nonjudicial mechanisms that have been utilized by countries in order to address massive human rights abuses. Such mechanisms can include prosecutions, truth commissions, amnesties, reparations and institutional reforms, as well as traditional methods of conflict resolution. It can be argued that the development of transitional justice as a field is most evident on the African continent. Africa provides a living laboratory for transitional justice with a wide range of mechanisms implemented throughout the continent, and has set precedents in both establishing truth commissions and pursuing criminal prosecutions. Africa has also provided unique examples of the interaction between international and localized mechanisms of transitional justice. Each situation must be evaluated within its own context in order to determine appropriate responses to mass atrocity; however, there are trends in what approaches to transitional justice have been more utilized and ultimately more effective in addressing the goals of transitional justice than others. Although these trends cannot be labeled as an all-encompassing African approach to transitional justice, identifying these patterns could help international and local actors support effective transitional justice mechanisms on the ground, rather than implementing justice processes from above. To date, there has been no comprehensive analysis of the question of whether there is an African approach to transitional justice, and if there is, what this approach entails. Through a comparative case study analysis of transitional justice mechanisms in Africa, this research infers broader universal knowledge claims from particular context-specific sources in order to analyze what are the main features of transitional justice in Africa in response to violations of international law including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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