TrustAfrica established the International Criminal Justice (ICJ) Fund in 2012 to support civil society’s efforts to improve accountability mechanisms for grave crimes in Africa. We work at national, regional and international levels, where we use different strategies to foster justice and reconciliation, often following protracted conflict.
At the national level, we have placed victims at the center of our engagement and enhanced the work of key organizations in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.
At the regional and international level, we have sought to address the declining legitimacy of the International Criminal Court and seize opportunities presented by new African accountability mechanisms (including the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the proposed African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework) by facilitating cross-continental experience sharing and learning.
These activities have contributed significantly towards building a well-networked and robust advocacy movement capable of addressing the challenges facing the implementation of international criminal justice in Africa.
In 2015, Fund activities included building the capacity of civil society organizations; fostering the development of research and data on African ICJ and transitional justice processes; and supporting strategy workshops, cross-continental learning initiatives, and joint advocacy missions at key regional and international meetings. At the center of this work is the need to re-focus attention on the plight of victims and governments’ responsibility to provide redress, a strategy that has proven effective in mobilizing constituencies to advocate for criminal and transitional justice.
One such initiative has been our engagement with the trial of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar, Senegal. Since the trial began on 20 July 2015, the Fund has been working closely with a consortium of civil society organizations and Senegalese law graduates to monitor, document, and share information on proceedings across various platforms. The ICJ Fund trained a group of law graduates from Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar, Senegal, to monitor and provide daily reports on the proceedings in both French and English. The work of these students provides an invaluable resource to activists and legal experts working on criminal justice issues in Africa and beyond. As the trial reopened on 8 February 2016, the media and other key partners highlighted TrustAfrica’s work in supporting documentation and monitoring of the ground-breaking trial, and developing the skills of young Africans to lead justice and accountability processes on the continent.
A 2015 interim evaluation of our work found that by bringing together major human rights grant-makers the Fund has been able to expand the operational scope and diversity of their investments in Africa. The evaluation also noted that the Fund has been adept in its response to the evolving climate for international criminal justice work on the continent and has supported fresh and bold advocacy initiatives.
The Fund continues to help sustain the efforts of its partners and to explore opportunities to expand its work in parts of Central Africa where accountability processes are just beginning. It is also deepening its engagements with continental mechanisms, including improving the African Court’s international criminal justice mandate – according a special role for victim participation and engaging groups working on documentation to improve these for litigation.