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, which is updated on an ongoing basis, reflects the diversity and contextuality of transitional justice processes that have been undertaken in Africa.

Algeria

Algeria

During Alegria’s war of independence against France (1954–1962), a number of revolutionary groups emerged, with the most prominent being the National Liberation Front (Front de Liberation Nationale, or FLN). As part of the agreement ending colonial occupation, the FLN banned political opposition, making Algeria a one-party state for 27 years ...
Central African Republic

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) gained its independence from France in August 1960. Since then, the country has experienced many years of, arguably, Africa’s most complex, enduring and, perhaps, devastating conflict. The years of instability in the country have been characterised by coups, civil wars and interference by international actors ...
Chad

Chad

A former French colony, Chad gained independence in August 1960. François Tombalbaye, leader of the Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Tchadien, or PPT), became the first elected president of Chad. Shortly after, Tombalbaye dissolved all political parties, except the PPT, and by 1963 Chad was a one-party state. The PPT leadership, like the Chadian army, were ...
Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire

For a long time after its independence from France in August 1960, the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire enjoyed relative political and economic stability. Félix Houphouët-Boigny became the country’s first prime minister and, when his party won all the parliamentary seats, he became president. Houphouët-Boigny would go on to win the presidential election for a record ...
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, ...
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 ...
Kenya

Kenya

After Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta became the first prime minister and later president of the country from 1963 until his death in 1978. Kenyatta’s administration was dominated by Kikuyus, his own ethnic group, who also dominated the military and public administration ...
Liberia

Liberia

Liberia’s history as the first African state to proclaim independence in 1847 makes it one of the most unique countries on the continent. The abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 motivated many people of African descent in the United States, including freed ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
South Sudan

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan declared independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011. Prior to its independence, South Sudan fought two wars against the Khartoum government in Sudan from 1955 to 1972 and from 1983 to 2005, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1.5 million and the displacement of over four ...
The Gambia

The Gambia

In February 1965, The Gambia gained independence from colonial Britain, becoming a republic in April 1970. Dawda Jawara, head of the People’s Progressive Party, was the first prime minister and first elected president of independent Gambia. In July 1981, the government prevented a coup with the help of Senegalese forces. In 1982, Jawara and Senegalese ...
Tunisia

Tunisia

Political instability, revolutions and repression characterised Tunisia’s fight for independence from Britain until 1956. Tunisia inherited a culture of impunity under its first Prime Minister and later first President Habib Bourguiba, whose main rival and pan-Arabist nationalist movement leader Ben Youssef was forced into exile and later assassinated in Germany. Bourguiba’s administration launched a campaign of ...
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 ...
Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

After years of British colonialism and later white minority rule, the liberation movements in Rhodesia achieved black majority rule with the signing of the Lancaster House Settlement in 1979. In March 1980, the country held its first democratic elections, resulting in Robert Mugabe, of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) political party, becoming the ...
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