Justice matters in Africa?

by Dismas Nkunda

What forms of justice meaningfully transform communities, societies and states? What does justice look like for those living with injustice? What does justice look like for a refugee who has been exiled for decades and feels utterly neglected by her homeland? How is justice experienced where theft of land during conflict has made access to livelihoods a daily grind? What does justice look like for a victim participating in a trial before an international tribunal who cannot access drugs for the HIV she contracted when she was raped?

What does justice look like to those who strive to bring justice? How can the divide between justice in theory and justice in practice be somehow narrowed – even just a little? What role can the African Union play, if any? Is it helpful that international criminal justice has become the default position for addressing issues of injustice? What are the alternatives? And what about the context?

What does justice mean for those who create injustice? How does it apply to government officials, militia leaders and company executives, whether from Africa or internationals, who have got away with murder on the continent through clever diversionary tactics, use of proxies, and the manipulation of global divisions?

Most of all, what about those who suffer injustice – where are their voices in this discussion?

These are some of the questions we want to explore in this blog. With contributions from IRRI and our expanding network of individuals and organisations for whom justice matters, we hope to expand the spaces for discussion by incorporating voices that are often not heard. We want to make connections between conversations that often fail to connect – between issues of citizenship, forced migration, governance, the politics of inclusion and exclusion, international criminal justice, local understandings of justice, transitional justice, land rights, mass atrocity – and join some of the dots.

Acknowledging there are no tidy answers, we hope to provide a place for debate because we believe that justice – justice that is appropriate, context-specific and that delivers – really does matter.

If you want to engage in this discussion, please tell us what justice means to you – as an individual or as a community. Contact Us at info@refugee-rights.org