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The International Criminal Court and Africa$
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Charles Chernor Jalloh and Ilias Bantekas

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198810568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198810568.001.0001

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The Development of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in Africa from Pre-Colonial Rule to the Present Day

The Development of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in Africa from Pre-Colonial Rule to the Present Day

Chapter:
(p.247) 10 The Development of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in Africa from Pre-Colonial Rule to the Present Day
Source:
The International Criminal Court and Africa
Author(s):

Kebreab Isaac Weldesellasie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198810568.003.0011

This chapter examines the development of criminal law and substantive, procedural, and relevant institutions on the African continent from antiquity to the present day. It demonstrates the existence of a well-knit and contextual criminal justice system throughout Africa, which was later infused with elements of Islamic law to serve the needs of the newly converted populations. The key characteristic of pre-colonial African criminal law is its customary, unwritten nature, with a focus on serving community rather than individual pursuits. Incarceration and punishment were unknown and instead efforts were made to compensate the victim, whose role was central to the process. This customary law served the continent until the advent of colonialism, whose protagonists enforced their conception of social control by reducing or even eliminating the application and influence of customary norms. As a result, even following decolonization, the new African nations retained colonial criminal legislation.

Keywords:   International Criminal Court (ICC), Rome Statute, Islamic law, criminal law, pre-colonial African criminal law

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