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Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

AFRICAN CENTRE FOR TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE (ACTCJ)

About us

transnational criminal justice

Our mission
Our focus
Our history
Our team

Our mission

The African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice (formerly the South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice) was originally established in 2008 and existed for over a decade before it was re-established under its current name in 2020. The mission of the Centre is to undertake cutting-edge research in its research niche, train subject specialists and experts equipped with the necessary skills to work in the field of international criminal law, transitional justice, transnational organised crimes and related fields both at the local, regional and international levels, whether in academia or industry. Through its research and academic events, the Centre provides a platform for critical and engaged scholarship that responds to the myriad challenges confronting the African continent in a rapidly changing and interconnected world.


Our focus

Transnational Criminal Justice focuses on three main areas: Transnational Organised Crimes, International Criminal Law, and Transitional Justice. As ICL specifically seeks to address core international crimes under international law, transnational criminal justice more broadly also involves the interaction of multiple national jurisdictions within an international law framework, both often in societies in transition. This not only requires revisiting our understanding of the concept of law but also the pluralistic relations of law in a transnational context which transnational criminal justice is called upon to regulate. This opens opportunity for intellectual inquiry and will be the fulcrum of the Centre’s work as it positions UWC to take the lead in this field.

Transnational Organised Crimes (TOC): Transnational crimes present a unique challenge for States and the international legal order for two main reasons. First, the crimes are committed within the territory of a nation state subject to the jurisdiction of such State. However, criminals are increasingly leveraging technology in their activities and with cross-border impacts reaching far beyond the territory of one single state whose courts would have exercised jurisdiction under public international law. This presents challenges for states and although many legal devices such as extradition, mutual legal assistance, cooperation frameworks etc, have been developed to fill the gap, in many cases, their utility has been limited.

Secondly, ICL (the branch of public international law concerned with the prohibition and punishment of certain conduct by individuals) by its very nature can only have limited applicability (core crimes) and practical utility (major perpetrators) before specific tribunals). Thus, this type of crime (treaty crimes) is generally out of the reach of ICL under public international law, hence creating a vacuum for this category of crimes. Transnational criminal law has evolved as a mechanism to prosecute this type of crimes.

The term ‘transnational crimes’ came to the limelight in the 1970s when the United Nations used it to describe criminal conduct which goes beyond the territory of one state or affects multiple national jurisdictions. Globalisation and advance in technology have opened new opportunities for transnational criminal activities to target States and organisations as they become more vulnerable. Thus, the cross-border character of these crimes and their transnational impact demand inter-state cooperation and an international legal framework to fight it.

The Centre collaborates with researchers, inter-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, international organisations and other partners at local and international levels.


Our history

In the early days of the transition to democracy in South Africa, the University of the Western Cape and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, began a cooperation arrangement that culminated in the establishment of the South African-German Centre for Development Research and Criminal Justice in 2008. This later split into two centres— the South African-German Centre for Development Research and the South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice— (‘the Centre’).

The Centre was conceived as a joint project between the Law Faculties of the University of the Western Cape and of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin to deliver a unique programme entitled ‘Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention – An International and African Perspective’.

The programme consisted of the LLM and PhD programmes which started in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The programme was ‘international’ and ‘unique’ and attracted students from South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. Most of the students received DAAD scholarships while a few others depended on other sources of funding or were self-sponsored. Selected LLM graduates were admitted into the DAAD-funded PhD cohort supervised by academics at UWC and Humboldt University. Master’s students in the programme attended a summer school at Humboldt University during which they also attended lectures and research seminars presented by leading international experts in the field of international criminal law and transitional justice. The students utilised resources and research facilities offered by the partner institution and were able to consult with experts in respect of their LLM theses.

PhD students were funded to undertake research visits to Humboldt University in Berlin for several months during which they participated in research seminars, interacted with researchers in their field, visited research facilities at other German universities and institutions, and participated in the research activities organised by similar Centres of Excellence. In this way, UWC students gained valuable exposure and developed broad perspectives in relation to their courses and research topics.

The Centre focused on learning, teaching, research and postgraduate supervision and for over a decade (2008 – 2018), the Centre maintained its status as one of the Centres of African Excellence (CoAE) established and funded by the Foreign Office of the German Federal Government across Africa. As will be shown below, within this period, the Centre graduated 127 Master’s and 13 PhD students. A 2011-2012 evaluation of the Centre concluded that ‘the Centre had grown to become a ‘unique establishment in Africa, with the potential of becoming the premier teaching and research site in the criminal justice field in the whole of Africa’. However, after two funding phases (2008 – 2012 and 2013 - 2018), the funding received from DAAD came to an end towards the end of 2018.

In December 2019, an evaluation of all DAAD Centres of African Excellence across the continent found that the South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice was, on average, one of the top performers in complying with the ‘quality aspect of different elements of the supported centres’. The 2012 evaluation of the Centre concluded that the Centre accomplished significant achievements within a short space of time and had great potential for greater success. It proposed areas requiring improvement some of which had to be implemented incrementally in subsequent years. From an initial batch of 19 LLM students in 2009, more than 127 LLM students and 13 PhD students graduated from the Centre as of 2018.

During its existence, selected students who graduated from the LLM programme were encouraged to proceed to the PhD programme and this enhanced the retention strategy of the Faculty of Law and the University. In addition, the Centre also afforded staff members interested in the field of research of the Centre the opportunity to pursue and complete their LLM and PhD studies at the Centre. This contributed to UWC’s strategy of strengthening research capacity and staff development. Some of the students in the last cohort from the centre submitted their theses in 2020 and others are expected to finish in the course of the year.

In the 10-year period of its existence, staff and students of the Centre published scores of peer-reviewed articles in national and international journals, books and book chapters and presented papers at local and international conferences. Some have become influential reference works in the field. The Centre also provided opportunity for academic exchanges between UWC Law Faculty academics and colleagues in our partner institution for teaching, research and supervision purposes. This was in addition to mentoring opportunities afforded to staff and students of UWC under the partnership. The Centre hosted conferences and research events organised through the Centre provided opportunities for students to hone their skills in the field. Thus, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, the LLM/PhD programmes of the Centre were regarded to be of high quality and strengthened the Faculty of Law within UWC. The regional and international outlook of the Centre also enhanced UWC’s international standing.


Our team

Core team

Actcj Iyi Mj

DIRECTOR

African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice

Acting Director: ACTCJ

University of the Western Cape

 
Assoc Prof John-Mark Iyi  

 

Specialisation

Public international law, peace and conflict, transitional justice, terrorism and transnational crimes, human rights and democratisation, jurisprudence and critical international legal theory

Bio in brief

Prof John-Mark Iyi obtained his LLB (Hons) and BL (Hons) from the University of Benin and the Nigerian Law School, in 1998 and 2000 respectively. He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2001 and taught briefly at the Nigerian Police College, Maiduguri between 2001 and 2002. In 2003, he obtained a Certificate in Peace Research from the University of Oslo and received his LLM from the University of Ibadan in 2008. He has also completed the All Africa Course on International Humanitarian Law at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in 2010.

Prof Iyi received his PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2014 where he was also a Webber Wentzel Scholar and an Associate of the Wits Programme in Law Justice and Development in Africa. From March 2014 to June 2016, he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the South African Research Chair in International Law, University of Johannesburg from where he joined the University of Fort Hare in 2016 as a Senior Lecturer. He served as an Associate Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Venda from July 2017 to December 2019. Prof Iyi joined the University of the Western Cape in January 2020 as an Associate Professor.

He is a Fellow of the Centre for Maritime Law and Security in Africa (Accra) and a member of several local and international professional bodies including the Academic Council on the United Nations System. His primary research interest lies in public international law and legal theory, international peace and security, human rights, terrorism, African Union and ECOWAS laws.

Contact

jiyi@uwc.ac.za

Actcj Lenong J

ASSOCIATE

Researcher

University of the Western Cape

 
Jentley Lenong  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

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Actcj Dr Nanima Bw

ASSOCIATE

Senior Lecturer: Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure

University of the Western Cape

 
Dr Robert Doya Nanima  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

Dr Robert Doya Nanima is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape. He currently lectures the Masters’ Class on International Anti-Corruption Law, the Law of Evidence, and Punishment and Sentencing. He continues to supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate students. His areas of research include criminal law, procedure, and the fusion between children and human rights. He remains involved with the work of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children and outputs of the African Children’s Charter Project (ACCP).

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Actcj Nortje W

ASSOCIATE

Senior Lecturer: Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence

University of the Western Cape

 
Dr Windell Nortje  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

Windell Nortje received his LLD at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. His doctoral studies focused on the accountability of juveniles for crimes under international law, with a special emphasis on child soldiers. He was the former project coordinator of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice. He is a senior lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of the Western Cape where he teaches introduction to law. His most recent publications focus on international criminal law, South African criminal procedure and anti-corruption law.

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Advisory board

Prof Burtram C Fielding - Director of Research Development , University of the Western Cape

Prof Jose Frantz - Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, University of the Western Cape

Prof Tyrone Pretorius - Rector and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Western Cape

Prof Jacques de Ville - Dean of Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape

Prof Kamari Maxine Clarke - Professor of Anthropology, University of California

Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango - Professor of Public International Law, University of Pretoria

Abigail Rebecca Sokoni - Chairperson of Law Student Council, University of the Western Cape

Prof Hennie Strydom - SARCHi Chair in International Law, University of Johannesburg

Prof Dire Tladi - Professor of Public International Law, University of Pretoria

 

Doctoral researchers

Actcj Olawale O

RESEARCHER

African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice

Doctoral candidate

University of the Western Cape

 
Omotunde Olawale  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

Omotunde Olawale is the lead counsel in Olawale Tunde & Co., a committed lawyer. He was called to the prestigious Nigerian Bar in 2002 and has been in active practice since then. He has experience in various fields of law such as corporate and commercial law, fundamental human rights, arbitration, mediation and litigation. Tunde is also a keen researcher. He advices on real estate, litigation and commercial transactions and human rights. Tunde is a member of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service organization. In his free time, Tunde likes to bike, listen to good music and play tennis. The title of his thesis is ‘ The dynamics of judicial enforcement of international and domestic legal regimes against terrorism in Nigeria’.

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Actcj Osile F

RESEARCHER

African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice

Doctoral candidate

University of the Western Cape

 
Olise Fidelis Olise  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

Olise Fidelis Olise holds three degrees in Law and associated disciplines. He obtained his first degree, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Benin, Benin-city before proceeding to Nigerian Law school, Abuja, where he qualified as a lawyer with the award of Bachelor of Law (BL) degree. And was called to the Nigerian Bar, as a barrister and solicitor. He has since obtained a Master of laws (LLM) and Master of International law & Diplomacy (MILD), degrees from the prestigious University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria. He is currently a doctoral student of the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Research Topic: State Failure in a Contested Legal Order: Towards a Differentiated Response /Approach to Domestic Terrorism in Northern Nigeria. He worked with several law firms including a consortium of Nigerian law firms – Legal Alliance, which itself was a member of an international consortium of law firms – Counsel Alliance. He also had a stint at corporate legal practice as Legal manager of LafargeCEMENT Plc and Legal manager/company secretary at African Pits & Quarries limited. And later, director, Legal and Admin. He is the principal partner of Legal Advisory Partners. His practice interest is in a vast area of law. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators of Nigeria.

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Administrator

Actcj James C

ADMINISTRATOR

Administrator

University of Western Cape

 
Candice James  

 

Specialisation

Bio in brief

Candice James is the administrator for CENTROW as well as the African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice. She completed her LLB degree at UWC in 2018 and subsequently completed her LLM in Multilevel Governance, Law and Policy with the Dullah Omar Institute at UWC. As mentioned, she also works as an administrator and part time researcher for the Centre for Transformative Regulation of Work.

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cajames@uwc.ac.za