Truth and Justice Commissions

    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    Burkina Faso still awaiting justice for Sankara and Zongo murders
    Gaël Cogné in Ouagadougou

    December 13 marks 18 years since the assassination of journalist Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso. Civil society organizations are organizing commemorations.  But the Zongo family is not alone in demanding justice. Those close to former president Thomas Sankara, killed 29 years ago, are also waiting for justice, but without much hope, since the leading suspect, ex-president Blaise Compaoré, still has long reach even if he was chased from power two years ago by a popular uprising.  Hopes of justice in the two cases were kindled after the uprising at the end of October 2014 that ousted Blaise...

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    Nepal : NGOs became neo-liberal business
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    On December 10th the World will celebrate universal human rights day. The occasion will be recognized in Nepal, but unfortunately democratization and human rights have become more buzzword than practice. The policies that have been implemented since the end of the People’s War have done more to protect powerful interests and hide the truth in the name of human rights than ensure those rights for the economically and politically marginalized. Instead human rights serve as an agent of global capitalism that produces capitalist agents to intervene and destroy the peoples rights movement. It is seen that the human rights movement is becoming a part of problem because of its universalistic...

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    Week in Review: A difficult path to truth and remembrance
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo

    This week showed some of the different faces of transitional justice. In Colombia, a new peace accord was finally ratified, whilst Tunisia continued public hearings of former regime victims, and debate continued in Rwanda over the role of the Catholic Church in the 1994 genocide. After signing the Colombian peace accord, President Juan Manuel Santos and the main rebel movement FARC now have six months to implement it. Justice and impunity are central issues in the process.  “The revised accord details the way transitional justice is to work,” explains JusticeInfo’s Bogota correspondent...

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    Week in Review: Looking back in Nepal and Bosnia, ICC trying to look forward
    François Sergent,

    It was once again a week of contrasts for transitional justice, notably in Cambodia, The Hague, South Sudan, Bosnia and Nepal, reflecting how paths to national reconciliation and their difficulties differ from country to country. Towards the end of the week, Colombia also got a revised, still controversial peace deal, which will this time be put to parliament, rather than directly to the people. Nepal, which has been marking 10 years since the end of a cruel civil war and is sometimes seen as a model, continues to struggle on the path to peace, writes Ram Kumar Bhandari, founder of an...

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    Transitional justice failing in Nepal 10 years after peace deal
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Nepal is this week marking the 10th anniversary of its comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006) and shaped a peaceful orientation towards a new democratic Nepal. But the legacy of violent conflict remains unaddressed and the transitional justice process is on the verge of collapse without delivering positive results. Nepal's politics is top-down and unrepresentative, with no accountability or responsibility to the people. The culture of impunity is deeply-rooted within a political culture that allows the interests of rulers at the centre...

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    Week in Review: Tears for Tunisia and the ICC, money for the CAR
    François Sergent,

    The first public hearings of victims started this week in Tunisia while the International Criminal Court (ICC), holding its annual Assembly of States Parties, suffered criticism and a new symbolic departure – that of Russia, which has signed the Treaty of Rome (founding treaty of the ICC) but not ratified it.  “Public hearings of Tunisian victims of dictatorship over more than 50 years (1955-2013) started on Thursday at the Club Elyssa, property of the former First Lady,” writes JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. “Seven victims of grave human rights abuses, selected by the...

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    Anger and tears as Tunisians relive torture years

    As anger erupted and the tears began to flow, four hours of testimony on live television by abuse victims shone a rare spotlight on the crimes of Tunisia's dark dictatorship years. In a plain white room inside a night club once owned by a dictator's entourage, victims of torture and abuse joined bereaved relatives to deliver an unprecedented account of the violence and intimidation Tunisians endured over decades of despotic rule. "We will not be silent," said Ourida Kadoussi, whose son was killed by security forces during the 2011 uprising against the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "We...

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