Truth and Justice Commissions

    “No peace for the CAR while armed groups hold balance of power”
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Thierry Vircoulon, a researcher at the French International Relations Institute (IFRI), lectures on security issues in Africa. In an interview with JusticeInfo.Net, he is pessimistic about the chances that a ceasefire for the Central African Republic (CAR) signed in Rome on June 19 will be implemented. He says there is no chance of a lasting peace deal so long as armed groups continue to hold sway on the ground. On June 20, only a few hours after the accord was signed, clashes between militia groups left up to a hundred people dead in Bria, in central CAR. Thierry Vircoulon, researcher at...

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    Government cynicism and the transitional justice dream in crisis
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    What a revealing new development in terms of government attitudes towards international justice: Twenty years ago, it was a source of immense hope, but now it has been reduced to begging from the public to fund the International Mechanism for Syria that was nevertheless set up by the UN General Assembly to gather evidence on serious crimes committed during the Syrian war.    The recent article by our Hague correspondent Stéphanie Maupas sharply reflects the troubled state of international justice and transitional justice more widely. Transitional justice was conceived in the 1990s and...

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    Civil society calls for Syria justice funding as UN drags its feet
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    An organization supporting Syrian civil society has launched a call for funding to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. This Mechanism, approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016, is supposed to centralize evidence gathered over the last seven years of war and prepare potential war crimes cases for any future tribunal. The UN Secretary General is expected to announce shortly the name of the person to head this Mechanism, but its funding is still not certain. Is justice for Syria too costly for UN Member States? The International,...

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    Nepal: Transitional uncertainty
    Ram Kumar Bhandari

    Over the past two decades, Nepal has suffered greatly, seeing minimal progress on social transformation, transitional justice, criminal accountability, and access to justice. The cyclical nature of Nepali politics and lack of progress has placed the transformative agenda squarely in the hands of few elites who have full control of the state apparatus. The return of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister (the 25th in the past 27 years, after 1990s Peoples movement) clearly shows the instability of the Nepali state. On June 6th, 2017, Sher Bahadur Deuba was elected Prime Minister of Nepal...

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    Kosovo proposes Truth Commission, as leaders suspected of war crimes

    Following elections in Kosovo on Sunday June 11, Ramush Haradinaj is the favourite to be next Prime Minister. Although acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he is still accused of war crimes by Belgrade. Last January he was arrested at Bâle-Mulhouse airport on a request from Serbia and imprisoned in France. French judicial authorities subsequently released him, without extraditing him to Belgrade. These elections no doubt signal a period of political instability in Kosovo. A coalition of parties that grew from the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) won the...

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    ICRC chief pleads for humanitarian access in Myanmar
    Frontier Myanmar

    The International Committee of the Red Cross works to provide relief to people within conflict zones. During a recent visit to tour ICRC projects and meet Myanmar officials, committee president Peter Maurer sat down for an interview with Frontier’s Jared Downing and reporters from several other outlets. Your first visit to Myanmar was in 2013. What has been your biggest surprise, coming back this time? From a relatively small operation of the ICRC, [ICRC Myanmar] has become the second largest in Asia, among the top 20 operations of ICRC worldwide. It has now a US$34 million budget, more...

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    Week in Review: Surprise clampdown on corruption in Tunisia
    François Sergent,

    Tunisia remains in the forefront of transitional justice with a surprise move this week on financial transparency. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed arrested suspected leaders of trafficking and corruption. These people are talked about in an International Crisis Group (ICG) report, “Blocked Transition: Corruption and Regionalism in Tunisia”. Tunisians, used to impunity for politicians and their clans, can hardly believe this news, explains JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. At stake is not only the past but also the present. According to ICG, all key sectors in Tunisia are...

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    “Who will testify to Kosovo tribunal?” asks the man who exposed organ trafficking

    Former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty this week spoke publicly for the first time in years about his explosive December 2010 report on illegal human organ trafficking in Kosovo. He was speaking to a “Carrefour de Sarajevo” forum at Neuchâtel University, attended by a numerous public.  In his report Marty (who is also on the board of  Fondation Hirondelle, owner of pointed the finger at current President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, accused of being “one of the most dangerous sponsors of the Albanian criminal underworld”. The report says that the Kosovo president and his close...

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    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....

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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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