Africa’s engagement with the issues pertaining to transitional justice (TJ) has a long history. TJ as we know it today became a core tenet of processes to deal with the consequences of conflict and authoritarian rule in the 1990s. Since then, scores of African States have made use of or are making use of TJ mechanisms in various forms in order to come to terms with the past and build a shared future of inclusive democratic and developmental systems of governance. Furthermore, given that a number of States are still actively experiencing conflict or acts of repression, the need for processes to achieve sustainable peace remains ever pertinent.
While the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) engaged the issue of TJ in Africa and made some useful pronouncements, there has been a lack of comprehensive guidance on how the African Charter best informs and shapes TJ processes to ensure adherence to the rights guaranteed in the Charter. The Study on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa is the first concrete step taken by the ACHPR to elaborate a Charter-based approach to TJ and elucidate the role of the Commission in TJ processes and mechanisms on the continent. The study draws on TJ literature, the various experiences of TJ as peculiar to the African continent, as well as the unique tools and mechanisms at the disposal of the ACHPR, to develop a comprehensive and coordinated African Charter-based approach for engaging with TJ within its mandate of promoting and protecting human and peoples’ rights. I hope that the implementation of the recommendations of the study, including the designation of a special mechanism, will go a long way in enabling the ACHPR to have effective and systematic engagement with TJ processes. I also urge other stakeholders to make use of this study and to cooperate with the ACHPR in its implementation.
The adoption of this study during the 24th Extra-Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in August 2018 was the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication by a large group of people. I would like to commend the Commission for achieving this milestone and to thank my colleagues for their invaluable inputs. In particular, I wish to acknowledge with appreciation the unwavering support of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, which served as the secretariat for this study, for their key role from the inception to the final publication of this study. My appreciation must also go to the members of the Advisory Panel, the legal officers at the ACHPR Secretariat, Abiola Idowu-Ojo and Elsabé Boshoff, everyone who took part in the regional consultations and experts’ reviews, as well as all the other people who contributed to this study in one form or another. We would not have been able to produce a study of this quality and substance without your contributions.
Solomon Ayele Dersso
Commissioner Focal Point for the TJ Study