Truth and Justice Commissions

    Nepal : when does conflict finish for conflict survivors?
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On April 13th, 2017 The Supreme Court of Nepal issued an arrest warrant for Balkrishna Dhungel, a Maoist leader and former parliamentarian, who was convicted of a murder that took place during the Nepal’s Armed Conflict. Supreme Court Justice Anand Mohan Bhattarai said “If the government agencies keep silent when the judiciary receive threats and intimidation from convicted perpetrators, the judges and the court will lose the credibility” in the direction to the government. Seven years ago Dhungel was sentenced to life in prison when he was then a member of first constituent assembly....

    Read more
    Guinea plans a Truth Commission
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

    A national workshop in Conakry of government and civil society representatives has approved a Bill to set up a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Guinea. This is in line with recommendations from the Interim National Reconciliation Commission (CPRN) after five years of wide consultations. “The Commission will not have the power to try or to amnesty anyone, since trials are the responsibility of the courts,” said Prime Minister Mamadi Youla at the workshop opening in Conakry on April 12. But he assured participants that the Commission would be politically independent and respect...

    Read more
    Freedom of opinion and expression under threat in Tanzania

    Is Tanzania still the “peaceful and stable country” that its residents and visitors say it is? Since the start of this year, more and more people, including from within the ranks of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution in Swahili) are denouncing attacks on people critical of President John Magufuli, elected at the end of 2015. The last straw was the abduction on the evening of April 5 in Dar es Salaam of a well-known rapper, famous for his lyrics criticizing the government. Singer Ibrahim Mussa and his three companions were taken by unidentified armed men, and only...

    Read more
    Judging crimes of the Jammeh era poses challenge in Gambia
    Maxime Domegni, West Africa correspondent

    Gambia is awaiting the creation of a transitional justice mechanism promised by the new government to help heal wounds after 22 years of dictatorial rule under former president Yahya Jammeh. In the meantime, police and judiciary have opened a series of investigations into forced disappearances under the former authorities. The task is not likely to be easy, especially since there are still people close to the former regime in the administration and judiciary. According to a police official quoted by Agence France Presse, 33 files have so far been opened on forced disappearances under the...

    Read more
    UN convenes Rohingya abuse investigation, but Myanmar says it won’t cooperate
    Sara Perria, IRIN

    YANGON, 4 April 2017 - The UN’s main human rights body is assembling a team to probe alleged atrocities against Myanmar’s Rohingya, even as the government appears set to deny investigators access to areas where crimes against humanity may have occurred. While the resolution sponsored on 24 March by the European Union at the UN Human Rights Council called for “ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators and justice for victims”, Myanmar has no obligation to cooperate with the fact-finding mission and has strongly signalled that it won’t. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human...

    Read more
    Myanmar lacks discussion on post-conflict justice, says expert
    Julia Crawford,

    In Myanmar, the start of a democratic transition in 2010 and the arrival in power of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in early 2016 raised much hope. But the military still holds considerable power. Conflicts in the country are continuing and even escalating. The army is accused of gross human rights abuses, notably against the minority Rohingya population in Rakhine State, and the UN has pledged an international  fact-finding mission, from which the government has distanced itself. So what are the current hopes for peace and justice in Myanmar? JusticeInfo spoke to...

    Read more
    Tunisia : Men and Boys Are Victims Of Sexual Violence, Too
    Kelli Muddell, Director of the ICTJ's Gender Justice Program and Sibley Hawkins, ICTJ Program Officer

    Something unusual happened on the first day of the public hearings being held by Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission. Sami Brahim came forward to give personal testimony of having survived sexual violence in prison during the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Brahim told the hundreds of Tunisians listening in the room, and thousands more following live on TV and the Internet, about his arrest as a student in the 1990s and his experience of abuse and torture while in jail: "All the prisoners were stripped, the young and the elderly. For an entire week, everyone was kept naked. Why? What...

    Read more
    Rakhine camps must close, says Myanmar's Annan Advisory Commission
    Su Myat Mon, Frontier

    The office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar has accepted the recommendations of an advisory panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which also call for the perpetrators of human rights violations to be “held to account”. YANGON — The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State says the government needs a comprehensive plan to close displacement camps as part of any solution toward the festering communal tensions in Myanmar’s west. Releasing its interim report on Thursday, the commission noted that efforts to return or relocate the more than 120,000 people living in IDP...

    Read more
    Week in Review: Steps towards justice for a forgotten genocide
    François Sergent

    Transitional justice this week caught up with the colonial German army’s genocide of Herero and Nama people in Namibia in 1904, seen as the first genocide in history. A New York judge accepted a complaint filed by descendants of Hereros and Namas massacred by the German colonial army. Although this crime has never been brought to trial and has been lumped together with colonial wars, it nevertheless meets the criteria of genocide defined by American jurist Raphael Lemkin in 1944 for the Shoah and later recognized by the UN. And Nambia intends to file a case against Germany for 30 billion...

    Read more
    Myanmar needs international inquiry on Rohingya abuses by security forces, says UN rapporteur
    Thomas Kean (Frontier Myanmar)

    As the Human Rights Council session in Geneva gets underway, Thomas Kean of our partner Frontier speaks to UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee about her call for a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses in Rakhine State, notably against the Muslim Rohingya minority.  Why have you recommended the creation of a commission of inquiry? Throughout the duration of my mandate, I have been flagging serious human rights concerns pertaining to the situation of the Rohingya and other minority communities in Rakhine State. However, the call for the commission of inquiry...

    Read more
    Sri Lanka’s victims demand justice, while government plays for time
    Julia Crawford,

    Sri Lanka’s government this week asked the UN Human Rights Council for more time to fulfil its promises under a 2015 Resolution on justice for civil war victims. The international community welcomed the surprise election of President Maithripala Sirisena in early 2015 and his promises of justice and reconciliation, but a new report from international jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP) says the government has done little and is acting in bad faith. The civil war, pitting majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and...

    Read more
    Dealing with hate: Can America's truth and reconciliation commissions help?
    Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University

    Recent vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia illustrates the all too real problem of hate crime faced by many communities in the United States. Just this February, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that for the second year in a row the number of hate groups in the United States has been growing – up from 892 in 2015 to 900 in 2017. The report also found since the election of President Donald Trump there has been a sharp increase in hate crime incidents. These incidents beg the question: How can such racial divisions be healed? I study U.S.-based truth commissions...

    Read more
    Nepal: the Transitional Justice Commissions and Victims’ Critical Engagement
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Transitional justice has been a stated priority throughout Nepal’s peace process following the end of the ‘People’s War’ in 2006, but it took nearly 10 years before the two truth commissions (Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC and Commission for Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons CIEDP) investigating war-era crimes were established. While these processes have enjoyed nominal support, the Nepali government never prioritized transitional justice in its national agenda, and the Commissions have not been prevented from fulfilling their mandates. The stalled transitional justice process has eroded trust between victims advocacy groups and the two Commissions. While the...

    Read more
    New challenges for transitional justice on the path to peace
    Pierre Hazan

    “The times are they are a-changing”, Bob Dylan used to sing. The winner of the 2016 Nobel prize for literature was surely not thinking about transitional justice when he wrote those lines back in the 1960s. Yet times are also changing for transitional justice, which has become a key component of peace accords. But with new objectives come new challenges, and they are considerable. Transitional justice was developed during the late 1980sand the following decade in the wave of optimism that followed the end of the Cold War. Defence budgets were falling, political and economic liberalism...

    Read more
    Gambia: Will justice one day catch up with Yahya Jammeh?
    Maxime DOMEGNI, regional correspondent

    It was under threat of a military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia for 22 years, finally decided to cede power to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election. Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea, is counting on the protection of his host country to avoid accountability for the many crimes and human rights abuses committed under his regime. As he went into exile on the night of Saturday January 21, Yahya Jammeh left behind him a wounded nation whose scars will take time to heal. Under the regime of the man who...

    Read more
    Rewriting Tunisia’s history to preserve dissident memories
    Olfa Belhassine

    A third survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer research body aims for reform of Tunisia’s history teaching manuals. History and memory are a central concern of victims in Tunisia, according to a survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer. There is a persistent feeling that the authorities have forgotten or are even deliberately denying historical events related to dissidence that have taken place in the contemporary period. Six years after the revolution, only small changes have been made to history textbooks in schools. The Transitional Justice Barometer is a social science...

    Read more
    Transitional Justice in Nepal : Road to Justice or collapse ?
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    In February 2017, Nepal’s transitional justice commissions will finish their two year mandate. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission for the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), were established in February 2015 eight years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed ending the 10 year ‘Peoples War’. The TRC and CIEDP were given a two year mandate to deal with the past human rights violations of armed conflict (1996-2006). The TRC and CIEDP were mandated with the investigation of conflict era cases. They are also mandated to recommend that the Government of Nepal provide reparations to conflict victims, prosecute the guilty and...

    Read more
    Scars haunt Colombian rebels as they disarm

    Jair's missing right leg reminds him of many things: the heavy price he paid for fighting in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the pain he inflicted on others. The 25-year-old guerrilla came of age in the FARC, which he believed was fighting to create a more just Colombia. Now, the Marxist rebels are gathering in disarmament camps after reaching a peace deal to end the half-century conflict. Preparing to disarm has given Jair a chance to think about how the violence has shaped his life. Six years ago, he was pursuing an enemy soldier in the country's northwest when he...

    Read more
    Report on Truth Commissions and Corporate Complicity
    Leigh A Payne

    When the Brazilian National Truth Commission (CNV) began in 2012, its decision to investigate not only the crimes of state agents but also corporate complicity in the dictatorship’s repressive apparatus seemed like an innovative direction for transitional justice in general and truth commissions in particular. Transitional justice in general, and truth commissions in particular, had not yet explicitly included recognition of the direct and indirect violations by non-state business actors in dictatorships and armed conflict. Recent research conducted at the University of Oxford reveals, however, that Brazil’s efforts were not as unique as they at first appeared. The Oxford study has...

    Read more
    Week in Review: New technology and old hopes for transitional justice
    François Sergent,

    Can a smartphone and an App hold war criminals accountable? Eyewitness, an App developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), is trying to help combat impunity with this new technological tool, said to be reliable, free and accurate. The aim is to document suspected war crimes witnessed by victims or others, through photos and videos. Wendy Bett, director of eyeWitness, explained in an interview with JusticeInfo the advantages of this project.  “Images taken with the eyeWitness app include a verifiable GPS time, date and location,” she says. “All come from a registered instance of...

    Read more