Shaping Transitional Justice in West Africa amid a global health pandemic

In July 2020, the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund (ATJLF) announced the approval of its second set of grants totaling about one million United States Dollars to 25 organizations in Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. This followed its first call for proposals in August 2019, in which the ATJLF Advisory Committee approved nearly US$500,000 in funding to 17 organizations in the six countries above, plus Guinea (excluding Mali).

The recent grant approvals come at a critical time when the world including West Africa, is battling the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no gainsaying how Covid-19 has greatly affected ordinary citizens and governments. Experts in various fora have noted the negative impact of this pandemic on transitional justice processes and work across the continent. For example, in The Gambia, the work of the Truth Commission has stalled because of Covid. In Guinea, some CSOs have seen around 60% of their activities on transitional justice either delayed or cancelled altogether due to the pandemic. It other countries such as South Sudan and the Central African Republic, we have seen the covid effect on what are already delicate peace building efforts. In conflict and post-conflict contexts, victims are experiencing increased trauma due to the dire socio-economic impact brought on by some of the Covid-19 measures implemented by governments; halt in psychosocial and other medical support for victims and in some cases, brutality by government security forces. In addition, crises like Covid have the potential to divert attention and funding away from areas such as transitional justice perceived to be less urgent by policy makers. Now more than ever, it is important to keep the spotlight on transitional justice and reconciliation issues and continue to support CSOs and victims’ groups who work in this field.

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