Improving the administration of justice by military courts in Africa: An appraisal of the jurisprudence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Publication Type:

Journal Article


African Human Rights Law Journal (2019)



Africa, justice, Military Courts, right to a fair trial


The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights was established to protect and promote human and peoples' rights on the African continent. This mandate extends to protecting and promoting human rights in the administration of justice by all organs that exercise judicial power, including military courts. In the execution of its mandate the African Commission has developed important jurisprudence on different aspects concerning the administration of justice by military courts. In this jurisprudence, the African Commission has expounded on what constitutes a violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and how military courts should administer justice in a manner that conforms to internationally-agreed standards, especially those relating to the right to a fair trial. Through desk review, the contribution appraises this jurisprudence. In analysing this jurisprudence, the article tries to draw a comparison, especially with the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee and other UN-established initiatives. It is argued that although the African Commission has done fairly well in interpreting the relevant provisions of the African Charter and in laying down principles and rules that should be followed by military courts in administering justice, there is still much the Commission can do to improve the administration of justice through military courts in Africa.