This volume aims to produce a better understanding of the relationship between tradition and justice in Africa. It presents six contributions of African scholars related to current international discourses on access to justice and human rights and on the localisation of transitional justice. The contributions suggest that access to justice and appropriate, context-specific transitional justice strategies need to consider diversity and legal pluralism. In this sense, they all stress that dialogical approaches are the way forward. Whether it is in the context of legal reforms, transitional processes in post-war societies or the promotion of human rights in general, all contributors accentuate that it is by means of cooperation, conversation and cross-fertilization between different legal realities that positive achievements can be realized. The contributions in this book illustrate the perspectives on this dialectical process from those operating on the ground, and more specifically from Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. Obviously, the contributions in this volume do not provide the final outcome of the debate. Rather, they are part of it.
About the editors
Tom Bennett is a Professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and has extensively published on customary law.
Eva Brems is a Professor of Human Rights Law at Ghent University in Belgium. Her research interests include most areas of human rights law, with special emphases on women’s rights, children’s rights and cultural diversity.
Giselle Corradi is a PhD candidate at the Human Rights Centre, Ghent University on the role of legal development actors at grassroots level regarding the relationship between human rights and customary justice in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lia Nijzink is a Senior Researcher with the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit, University of Cape Town and conducted research on the role of traditional justice in international justice sector aid in Africa.
Martien Schotsmans is a PhD candidate at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University on globalisation and localisation in transitional justice, with a focus on tradition-based justice.
Chapter I. Introduction (p. 1)
Chapter II. Access to justice and human rights in the traditional courts of sub-Saharan Africa (p. 19)
Chapter III. Courts and the application of customary law in Malawi: Towards the reintroduction of local courts (p. 47)
Chapter IV. Powers, rights and citizenship: The ‘return’ of the traditional authorities in Mozambique (p. 67)
Chapter V. Traditional justice and human rights in post-war African countries: Prospects and challenges (p. 95)
Chapter VI. Reinventing and validating the cosmology and ontology of restorative justice: Hermeneutics of the traditional Acholi justice system in Northern Uganda (p. 121)
Chapter VII. Revisiting the legal and socio-political foundations and (Western) criticisms of gacaca courts (p. 149)