Victimization of African Indigenous Peoples: Appraisal of Violations of Collective Rights Under Victimological and International Law Lenses

TitleVictimization of African Indigenous Peoples: Appraisal of Violations of Collective Rights Under Victimological and International Law Lenses
Publication TypeUnpublished
AuthorsNdahinda, FM

Recent evolutions in international (human rights) law standards-setting have focused on promotion and protection of rights of indigenous peoples as collectives. The latter are presented as victims of existing and imposed institutional and legal structures in current Westphalian-modelled polities. 'Victim' in this context remains a concept to be clarified in the light of both international (human rights) law and victimology. Taking the still resisted and even contested existence of Africa Indigenous Peoples as an example among many others, this paper intends to discuss the following core issues: 1.) Despite specific reference in the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power to both individual and collective victimization, victimological discourses are dominated by entitlements of victims as individuals, at the expense of the numerous claims by some collectives, such as indigenous peoples, of their often violated rights through criminal acts or abuse of power; 2.) By challenging the foundational principles of modern unitary sovereigns as the sole beneficiary of self-determination, African - like other - indigenous peoples denounce lack of state legal protection of their specific and differing interests in societies in which they live. Thus, they suffer additional form of victimization (both criminal and through abuse of power) due to their subjugation, marginalization and dispossession by members of the so-called modern/ mainstream society as well as from political administrations in the states in whose jurisdiction they live; 3.) In those aspects of lack of state legal protection of the groups as collectives, we argue that the concept of abuse of power in the declaration covers their collective claims and entitlement to the benefits resulting from the declaration, given the reliance on internationally recognized norms relating to human rights in defining the latter concept; 4.) In case indigenous peoples are duly acknowledged in their collective standing as victims, how can this type of victimization be operationalised under the existing victims' surveys? Furthermore, what are the challenges presented by availing the rights in the declaration and other victims' rights instruments not only to victims as individuals but also as collectives? 5.) What are the possible advantages or disadvantages on the one hand, conflicts or rather complementarity on the other hand, respectively presented by or resulting from coverage of (African) indigenous peoples' claims by both international (human rights) law and victimological studies.