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Challenging crime and criminal justice systems in Africa: Towards restoration of Afrocentric justice

November 1, 2009

…Examining the challenges of studying crime and criminal justice systems in Africa, Prof. Etannibi Alemika of the University of Jos, Nigeria worried about inadequate official attention to academic study of crime, criminology and criminal justice discipline in Africa particularly in Nigeria….

….In a related development, Dr. Annie Barbara Chiwanha-a senior research fellow with the African Human Security Initiative Secretariat, and the Institute for Security Studies based in Addis Ababa argues that her finding of a ‘crime survey in 3 West African Countries’ appears to support the need to develop Afrocentric theories of crime and justice. She found that respondents in her study are in favour of restorative justice/Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism than the Eurocentric model of retributive justice….

….Similarly, Prof. Christophe Kougniazonde of Alouine Blondin Beye Academie, Benin Republic, in his paper ‘Criminal justice systems in Francophone African countries’ notes that Francophone countries operate dual justice systems-customary versus western model. He argues that this judicial dualism generates conflict in the Francophone jurisprudence….

….In another paper ‘Criminal justice systems in Anglophone African countries’, Prof. Ameze D. Guobadia of the Nigerian Institute for Legal Studies/ University of Lagos argues that the challenges for Anglophone criminal justice systems are that the
criminal justice systems are ‘Rulers’ law and not Peoples’ law’; and all the prisons she ever visited in Africa are overcrowded (except Sierra-Leone)….

….In a bid to finding remedies to the problems of crime and criminal justice systems in Africa, Dr. David Zounmenou of the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria South Africa examines the challenges of harmonising Africa’s Francophone and Anglophone criminal justice traditions….

….Dr. Tony Karbo of University for Peace-Africa suggests that Regional Economic Communities (REC) such as ECOWAS, SADC and AU must play important roles. He identified some efforts in the literature which could serve as precursors for REC’s response to criminal justice reform issues in Africa….

Read the full report, with Omale’s comments and the meeting’s recommendations.


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