A Message from the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability on Racial Justice

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A Message from the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability on Racial Justice

The killing of George Floyd in the USA has ignited global demand for an end to police brutality and racial injustice. The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) adds its voice to those calling for protection of and respect for the human rights of all black people, affirms that Black Lives Matter, and underscores the urgent need to end structural and institutional discrimination against all people of colour.

Sadly, no country, company or court can claim to be completely free of racism. Even the most progressive nations must face the fact that systemic racism not only exists, but is all too prevalent. Accordingly, AGJA expresses its solidarity with people and communities around the world who are agitating for meaningful change in the nations and institutions that are meant to serve them. It expresses its support for those taking to the streets to ensure that the message that Black Lives Matter is heard. It is high time that governments and institutions not only listen, but actually act in unity and good faith to dismantle the fretwork of systemic racism.

Indeed, systemic racism is far from limited to the USA. Police brutality and xenophobia continue to plague communities across the African continent. In April, at least six people died as a result of police violence in Kenya; and in South Africa, xenophobic attacks have been fuelled by the violent misconception that immigrants are the cause of the country’s social and economic woes.

Neither is systemic racism limited to government bodies and national institutions. If even the most prosperous and progressive states suffer the scourge of systemic racism, then so too do the international bodies that they create. Racism is evident at the international level—even in institutions of international criminal law and justice.

AGJA members are all too conscious of the pernicious and damaging effects that racism has on people of colour and visible minorities working in the field of global justice. It is hurtful. It must end. If it does not, the international rule of law will persist as a hollow approximation. It must apply to the benefit of all. Yet, committing to the rule of law requires more than mere words or gestures. People suffering racial injustice expect -and deserve- meaningful action, and not just sanctimonious statements of support or solidarity.

We the members of AGJA therefore pledge that:

  • We will do our part to expose systemic racism in international criminal law and justice.
  • We will listen to those who feel marginalised by racial injustice.
  • We will urge our own institutions to hire more people of colour and encourage them to
    succeed and hold senior positions.
  • We will use our collective knowledge and experience to counter racial inequality and
    encourage meaningful access to global justice for all, irrespective of race, colour or
  • We will listen, speak out, and act.

The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) supports efforts to strengthen justice and accountability measures in Africa through domestic and regional capacity building, advice and outreach, and enhancing co-operation between Africa and the International Criminal Court. It comprises senior African experts on international criminal law and human rights, including political figures, members of international and domestic tribunals, and human rights advocates:

  • Dapo Akande
    Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
  • Richard J. Goldstone
    Former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia
  • Hassan Bubacar Jallow
    Chief Justice of The Gambia, former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
  • Tiyanjana Maluwa
    H. Laddie Montague Chair in Law, Pennsylvania State University School of Law
  • Athaliah Molokomme
    Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Botswana to Switzerland and the UN Office in Geneva, and former Attorney- General of Botswana
  • Betty Kaari Murungi
    Advocate of the High Court of Kenya
  • Mohamed Chande Othman
    Former Chief Justice of Tanzania
  • Navi Pillay
    Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Catherine Samba-Panza
    Former Transitional President of the Central African Republic
  • Fatiha Serour
    Director of Serour Associates for Inclusion and Equity, former UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia
  • Abdul Tejan-Cole
    Executive Director, African Studies Association