The theme of this collection of 13 essays is the contribution of African
civil society organisations to international criminal justice mechanisms.
This includes the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as regional
and national institutions.
Civil society groups in Africa are seeking to utilise international and
domestic legal frameworks to pursue justice for international crimes
committed around the continent and the globe. Such civil society
organisations are already playing a key role in domestic international
criminal justice procedures in several African countries, as well as
before international criminal tribunals, including the ICC.
A prime recent example of this is the order obtained in the Gauteng
High Court by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre ordering South
African authorities to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who
has been subject to two ICC arrest warrants since 2009, from leaving
South Africa (Southern Africa Litigation Centre v Minister of Justice and
Constitutional Development and Others, 2015(5)SA1(GP)). The
Minister’s appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal
(Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v
Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Others (867/15) ZASCA17).
The distinguished contributors include authors from South Africa,
Nigeria, Australia, Uganda, Germany and the USA. The subject is
comprehensively examined from a broad international perspective, with
a focus on Africa and in particular South Africa. Transitional justice
agendas and policies are covered and there are pertinent observations
from the field. There is no shying away from criticism where merited,
and difficulties are realistically addressed.
This authoritative body of work has its origins in a workshop held in
2015 hosted by the Law Faculty of the University of Cape Town in
collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Centre, UNSW
Australia, and with the support of the Australian Research Council.
Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Richard
Goldstone, who served as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, makes some
pertinent observations concerning the media:
“With regard to international criminal justice the media has played
both a positive and negative role. No criminal justice system can
be effective without wide public awareness of what happens in
the courts. Punitive justice depends entirely on such awareness.
Victims of crime require to be informed of the trials of the people
believed to have been responsible for their victimhood. It is
primarily for this reason that in democracies the courts are open
to the public and in particular the media. …All of the international
criminal courts and tribunals have been open to television
cameras… The media have more often than not described
acquittals in international courts as failures of the system. The
contrary would be correct. The fairness of any criminal justice
system should be measured not by convictions but by
The co-authors, the contributors and publishers Juta are to be
commended for making this important collection available to a wider
readership. The insightful perspectives from academics, practitioners
and civil society representatives are a timely guide to a critical
aspect of the quest for justice in an emerging world order.