CSVR | CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF VIOLENCE AND RECONCILIATION

African countries have experimented with and implemented transitional justice measures for several decades. This database provides case studies of transitional justice processes that have occurred across the continent. The case studies discuss truth commissions, justice and accountability measures, reparations programmes, institutional reforms and other elements of transitional justice, such as community-based and traditional justice mechanisms, as well as cross-cutting issues, such as gender and the role of international actors.

The 2019 African Union Transitional Justice Policy defines transitional justice as “the various (formal and traditional or non-formal) policy measures and institutional mechanisms that societies, through an inclusive consultative process, adopt in order to overcome past violations, divisions and inequalities and to create conditions for both security and democratic and socio-economic transformation.” This database reflects the diversity and contextuality of transitional justice processes that have been undertaken in Africa.

Algeria

Algeria

Fearing a victory for the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), the National Liberation Front (FLN) cancelled elections in December 1991, allowing the Algerian military to take control in a coup. Armed conflict erupted between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups, which resulted in a 10-year civil war. The army repressed civilians suspected of supporting ...
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Central African Republic

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) enjoyed several years of peace immediately following its independence in 1960. President Bokassa, who had served as military ruler since 1966 and proclaimed himself emperor in 1976, broke this era of peace in 1979. Bokassa had approximately 250 schoolchildren beaten, arrested, and jailed for protesting increases in school fees. Many ...
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Chad

Chad

Chad has a long history of conflict dating to its independence from France in 1960. These conflicts have historically involved interference from international actors. Against this backdrop, Hissène Habré came to power in 1982 and remained in power until 1990. During this time he gained a reputation as one of Africa’s most brutal dictators. Habré ...
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Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire

After assuming power in a rebellion in 2002, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in 2007, authorizing free and fair elections in Côte d’Ivoire. When the results were tabulated in 2010, President Gbagbo lost to Alassane Ouattara, candidate of the Union of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). Ouattara’s victory was ...
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a history of unaddressed mass atrocities. In the 16th and 17th centuries the British, Dutch, and Portuguese built a slave trade in the DRC. Political turmoil kicked off by a mutiny by the Congolese following their independence from Belgium in 1960 led to a coup in 1965, ...
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Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Ethiopia experienced two political crises in the second half of the 20th century, one in 1974 and another in 1991. The 1991 crisis was believed to have brought democracy to the country, which suffered for years under autocratic and dictatorial rule. Right after the fall of the military regime, a transitional government was established to ...
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Kenya

Kenya

Following Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963, the country was governed as a one-party state under the regimes of President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor President Daniel arap Moi. In the early 1990s, President Moi relented to demands to return to a multiparty system. He remained in power following two close elections in 1992 and ...
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Liberia

Liberia

The origins of the Liberian civil war date to the 1820s, when freed American and Caribbean slaves resettled in Liberia and enslaved indigenous Liberians, leading to Americo-Liberian domination of the government for the next century. In 1989, Americo-Liberian Charles Taylor led the rebel group the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) into the Liberian capital ...
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Libya

Libya

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qaddafi came to power in 1960 after overthrowing King Idris in a coup d’état. Qaddafi remained the head of state until his violent removal and death during the 2011 revolution. At the time, Libya’s uprising surpassed those of other Arab Spring countries with regard to the level of violence and human rights ...
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Mauritius

Mauritius

The island nation of Mauritius has a history of colonialism and slavery, the tendrils of which are still present in modern Mauritian society. The uninhabited island was first claimed and unsuccessfully colonized by the Dutch between 1598 and 1710. The Dutch withdrew and France took control, until Mauritius was ceded to Britain under the Treaty ...
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Morocco

Morocco

Morocco is a racially and linguistically diverse country with a history of political upheaval rooted in early colonial occupation. Arabs and Imazighen (Berber) make up the largest percentage of the population, while other groups include descendants of Spanish refugees who fled the Reconquista and of Sub-Saharan African slaves. The country’s status as a French protectorate ...
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Mozambique

Mozambique

Mozambique experienced protracted conflict during its fight for independence from Portugal, which occurred in 1975. This was soon followed by a civil war that lasted from 1976 to 1992. The primary combatants were the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) and the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), both of which committed serious human rights abuses during the ...
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Namibia

Namibia

The Republic of Namibia gained its independence on 21 March 1990 after decades of colonial rule by Germany and later under occupation by South Africa’s apartheid government. Prior to independence, Namibia witnessed grave violations of human rights, including the Nama and Herero genocide at the hands of German colonialists, the forced disappearances of thousands by ...
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Nigeria

Nigeria

Nigeria has experienced numerous political crises and instability, including the forceful overthrow of elected governments, attempts at secessionism and revolution, regional unrest and militancy, ethnoreligious violence, election-related violence, terrorism and, recently, banditry and herders/farmers’ crises in some parts of the country. Each of these cases resulted in the loss of many lives and the amplification ...
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Rwanda

Rwanda

The antagonism between Hutu and Tutsi that led to the 1994 genocide has its roots in the colonial period. From seizing power in 1897, the German colonizers failed to acknowledge the particular meanings given to the categories of Hutu and Tutsi in precolonial society. In general, the term ‘Hutu’ was used to describe the followers ...
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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

In March 1991, a growing rebel force in neighboring Liberia known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) invaded Sierra Leone, commencing one of the most violent civil wars in modern history. With the support of Liberian President Charles Taylor, RUF Commander Foday Sankoh recruited Sierra Leonean youths struggling with unemployment and lack of access to ...
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Somalia

Somalia

Since 1991, following the ousting of Somalia’s socialist authoritarian leader Siad Barre, the country has been in a persistent state of conflict. Despite international and local efforts to restore stability, numerous attempts to establish a centralized government have not met with full success. Throughout the conflict, Somalis have suffered human rights abuses at the hands ...
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South Africa

South Africa

South Africa’s history has long been marred by racism and discrimination. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company established a settlement in the Cape. Once there, the settlers brutalized and dispossessed the indigenous San and Khoikhoi populations, forcing them into indentured servitude. Control over the Cape passed to the British in 1806. European domination was ...
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South Sudan

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan became one of the world’s newest independent states on 9 July 2011. Prior to its independence, South Sudan fought two successive wars against the Khartoum government in Sudan from 1955 to 1972 and again from 1983 to 2005, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1.5 million and the ...
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The Gambia

The Gambia

The Gambia became independent from Britain in 1965, with Dawda Jawara at the helm as prime minister. Jawara was elected as president in 1970, when the Gambia officially became a republic. In 1981, an attempted coup was suppressed with help from Senegal, ultimately causing the deaths of 500 people. In 1994, a successful coup resulted ...
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Tunisia

Tunisia

Under President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime from 1987 to 2011, union members, human rights defenders, civil servants, journalists, and political activists in Tunisia were harassed, intimidated, detained, tortured, and subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. Freedom of expression and assembly were under strict scrutiny. Oppressive security policies were implemented by the state to silence ...
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Uganda

Uganda

Since achieving its independence from Britain on 9 October 1962, Uganda has had a tempestuous political history marked by civil wars, dictatorship, electoral authoritarianism, ethnic tension and military incursion. Arguably, it was the British colonial administration that provided fertile ground for political instability in Uganda through its divide and rule policy, a weak state apparatus ...
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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

In April 1980, after gaining its independence from Britain, Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution and held its first democratic elections. Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Unity (ZANU) party won the presidential election and held the post for decades. Soon, a seven-year armed conflict erupted between the new government and opposition forces, consisting of ...
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