Hybrid courts, a new approach to justice – Keefa Kaweesa

A newly emerging form of accountability and reconciliation in the justice system is the hybrid domestic international courts. Such courts are ‘Hybrid’ because the instituted apparatus and the applicable law consist of a blend of the international and the domestic. Foreign judges sit alongside their domestic counterparts to try cases prosecuted and defended by teams of local lawyers working with those of other countries. The judges apply domestic law that has been reformed to accord with international standards.

The Hybrid has been developed in a range of setting generally post-conflict situations where no politically viable fully-fledged international tribunal exists as in East Timor or Sierra Leone or where an international tribunal exits but cannot cope with the sheer number of cases as in Kosovo.

Here in Africa, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has welcomed the South Sudan governments’ decision to establish the Hybrid Court and other transitional justice mechanisms to address violations committed during the conflict.

On Friday last week, the South Sudan cabinet directed the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to take the necessary steps for establishing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan to investigate  and prosecute  individuals responsible for violations of human rights  and human rights law and atrocity crimes

The Human rights Chairperson Yasmin Sooka said that after more than two years of delay, the government has taken the first steps to initiate key transitional justice measures to address the legacy of gross human rights violations in South Sudan.” If the government of South Sudan is to retain any credibility whatsoever, the political rhetoric must translate into tangible and genuine results”, he added.

The revitalized peace agreement signed in September 2018, stipulates that there shall be a Hybrid court in South Sudan aimed at holding war perpetrators in the country’s civil war.

The introduction of the Hybrid Court in South Sudan is supported by African Union might be a long-term strategy aimed at enriching the legal system in Africa to bolster the sharing of knowledge and experience and curbing the manifested corruption in the justice system.


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