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Robben Island: A monument to the African struggle for freedom

Under colonial occupation and neocolonialism, the court in Africa has been employed for ends extraneous and alien to its proper purpose, which is to promote justice through the determination of responsibility, of guilt or of innocence, by open examination and arguing of evidence.

The ideas and assumptions underlying the colonial occupation result in the misuse the legal process by exploiting the courtroom for such aims as the defeat of African sovereignty and independence.

Xhosa community leaders imprisoned at Robben Island in the 19th century.
We must change the frightening perception that African communities have of the legal system in Africa. Too many people perceive legal matters from the view point of suspects and criminals.

This is a result of the fact that colonial legality criminalized Africans, and that much of the legal system currently in place has carried over much of the pandect, policing, attitudes, language, and paraphenalia of the colonial occupation. This is unacceptable.

The legal system must be transformed so that it can function in such ways that allow people to relate to the courts, the police, and judges, as positive and sensitive to African concerns. Instead today most of the legal matters are alien, intimidating, and repressive towards a large section of the African population.

For example many insubstantial disorders are punishable by excessive and cruel methods, as offences, which in fact do not register in the normal attitudes of Africans as constituting punishable offences.

Moreover, the rehabilitative element in neocolonial justice is really weak. There have been cases where people are sent to prison for long terms for practicing innocuous practices that are misdemeanors under African classical/customary law. There have been cases in Africa where parents are sent into prison without regard to the survival of infant children, for such things as illegal brewing of moonshine, or for stealing food items, or lifting soap for washing.

Most of the prison system in Africa consists of slum dwellers and internally displaced people. It is still common in parts of the African Union for police to shoot and kill fleeing individuals suspected of stealing items of low social value. This is distressing and it is necessary to end such hostile legal enforcement...especially because in many cases the laws books have not been modified since the colonial officers who wrote them left.

The AUF recognizes the right of asylum in the African Union, for foreign citizens persecuted for defending the interests of Africans, for international peace building activities, and for struggling against neoclonialism. Moreover, Africans who have grievances and fear for their lives must be accorded equal protection under the rules of international jurisprudence anywhere in the African Union.