Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Jolyon Ford

Pretoria (Tshwane),: Institute for Security Studies, 2009

From the Introduction:

Consider the following six brief and related statements:


1. Impunity and inaction in response to the most serious crimes of concern to the

international community represent a failure to meet human rights principles,

to respect victims, and to deal with issues affecting future peace.


2.A global consensus exists on the need to provide an acceptable, principled

international criminal justice system as a means to deal with perpetrators of

international crimes: that consensus is reflected in the Rome Statute of the



3.The ICC is only likely to be perceived as just, effective, legitimate and

sustainable to the extent that it is fair in its treatment of those brought before



4. Representation by a competent independent legal defence counsel is, in turn,

considered indispensible to fair investigations and trials in the ICC and other

international criminal tribunals.


5.The role of the defence lawyer in ensuring systematic fairness in international

justice deserves more attention generally.


6.There is, in particular, an ongoing need for more awareness raising and

capacity building in order to enable African lawyers to engage in the work of

the ICC in general and in Africa, including by acting as defence counsel or



This handbook explores some of the issues raised in these statements with a view

to increasing African lawyers’ understanding of, and engagement, with the ICC

and its processes and in particular the role of defence counsel, in order to help

bring fairness to international justice.


Francophone African Legal Links

The following article offers dozens of links to online legislation and case law from francophone African countries, as well as a discussion of the state of free online legal resources in Africa.

Text is in French.

Les Expériences Africaines de la Diffusion Libre du Droit Sur Le Web: bilan et perspective

Revue Juridique et Politique 2009 #3. pp.638-652.

Amavi Tagodoe and El Hadji Malick Ndiaye

Sudan Laws Online

Sudan Laws Online is a database that offers a selection of  full-text Sudenese statutes. All documents and the search interface are in Arabic. The Web site also includes news and some commentary. The database has free materials and also subscription content.

Sudan Laws Online

To access the statutes click on

قوانين السودان.

Sample Laws available:

Criminal Code

Code of Civil Procedure

Code of Crminal Procedure

Civil Transactions Law

Evidence Act

 Labor Relations Act

Protecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in South Africa

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) has posted online the 2009 report:  ”Protecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants in South Africa”,%20Asylum%20Seekers%20and%20Immigrants%20in%20South%20Africa.pdf

The CoRMSA site also contains policy briefs, reports, links, and South African legislation on immigration, refugee  and asylum law.

Legis-Palop Database – Lusophone African Legislation

Legis-Palop is a database of legal information for 5 Portuguese speaking African countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Príncipe. The site includes legislation, case law, doctrine and legal links. All information is available only in Portuguese. Registration is required.

Hat tip to Shirley Gilmore and the Organization of South African Law Libraries


Projecto de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento dos Sistemas Judiciários

African Studies Abstracts Online

The University of Leiden’s African Studies Centre Library posts its African Studies Abstracts Online for free.  The entries are arranged by country, author, subject, and periodical title. Law is one of the subjects listed.  Many of the  journal citations will be useful for those studying human rights, development issues, and environmental law. The African Studies Abstracts Online is published four times a year.

From the African Studies Abstracts Online description and coverage notes:

African Studies Abstracts Online provides an overview of articles from periodicals and edited works on sub-Saharan Africa in the field of the social sciences and the humanities available in the African Studies Centre library.


African Studies Abstracts Online covers edited works (up to 50 in each issue) and a wide range of journals in the field of African studies. Some 240 journals are systematically scanned. Just over half of these are English-language journals, just under a quarter are French, and most of the rest are German. A few Afrikaans, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese-language journals are also covered. Some 40 percent of all the journals are published in Africa. Newspapers and weeklies, popular magazines and current affairs bulletins, statistical digests, directories, annual reports and newsletters are, with rare exceptions, not scanned.


Articles from journals published in Africa and from leading Africanist journals published outside the continent are provided with abstracts. Articles from other journals, including journals on North Africa, are catalogued and indexed without abstracts. All articles are included in the African Studies Centre Library OPAC at

African Studies Abstracts Online

The Library also provides full-text access to the following great resources:

 Working Papers collection                                                               

List of free Africa related e-journals

Briefing Paper on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Chathan House  Briefing Paper on the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. Chathan House is a UK based NGO focusing on internatioanl affairs.

Africa’s New Human Rights Court: Whistling in the Wind?

Sonya Sceats

March 2009




Summary of the briefing

_ Human rights abuses on a massive scale continue to afflict the lives of millions of

people across the continent of Africa. As in other parts of the world, the obstacles

in pursuing justice are currently insurmountable for most victims.


_ Against this troubling backdrop, the African Union (AU) has decided to add a

human rights section to its new court which has been agreed upon but not yet set

up. This court is called the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.


_ In the meantime, another pan-African human rights court, the African Court on

Human and Peoples’ Rights, has recently opened in Arusha, Tanzania. This court will

be wound down to make way for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights but

is expected to operate for the next few years at least.


_ These two courts represent the third instalment in efforts since the Second World

War to create regional human rights courts. Because they have broad powers to

enforce socio-economic rights and the collective rights of peoples, they may be

setting an example for new developments around the world.


_ This briefing paper focuses on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, but it

also explains key features of the interim African Court on Human and Peoples’

Rights. It addresses questions including:

_ Can victims of human rights abuses bring cases?

_ Will the Court be able to try African heads of state?

_ Will governments comply with judgments?

Southern Africa Case Citator from SAFLII

The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) has created a link to the LawCite citator  for case law from Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Search results list subsequent cases that cite your case. For selected cases, a table of authorities is also provided. The citator database is searchable by citation, party name, jurisdiction, and key word.  Access is free.

Hat tip to Karen Shear of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Law Cite – SAFLII

UNCTAD E-Regulations Business Facilitation site

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development maintains a useful site for information on starting and registering businesses in developing countries. Information is provided on what documents are needed, approximate time required and estimated costs. Information also provided on authenticating documents, setting up non-profits and purchasing real estate. The countries currently covered are Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mali, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. 

UNCTAD E-Regulations Business Facilitation site

New South African Law Journal – Constitutional Court Review

The South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC) and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria will release the inaugural issue of “Constitutional Court Review” later in September of 2008. This will be an annual, peer-reviewed publication.

Constitutional Court Review

Journal description from the SAIFAC Web site:

The journal contains lead essays, responses, short articles and case comments devoted to the jurisprudence of the South African Constitutional Court in the previous year. The journal has a 20-person editorial board, including 10 international members. The inaugural issue of the CCR will be published in September 2008.  In order to stimulate research for this publication, an annual conference will be held in July of each year at which contributing authors will present their draft papers.  The first such conference will take place at the Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West, Western Cape, in July 2008.