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National Reconciliation

South Africa’s transition from apartheid government, Rwanda’s response to genocide, and other counties’ efforts to build peace after civil war have featured restorative thinking and programmes

Liberia TRC -- Giving a Statement
Information about the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation and its statement giving process.
Grassroots Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Since the end of its civil war, Sierra Leone has faced many challenges as ex-combatants and their victims return to their communities, often living side-by-side. Official mechanisms such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the U.N. backed tribunals have had limited impact for those living in rural communities who suffered the most from the war. In response, the non-governmental, human rights organization Forum of Conscience has begun to revive traditional conflict resolution measures to bring victims and ex-combatants together in reconciliation ceremonies.
Grassroots Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Since the end of its civil war, Sierra Leone has faced many challenges as ex-combatants and their victims return to their communities, often living side-by-side. Official mechanisms such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the U.N. backed tribunals have had limited impact for those living in rural communities who suffered the most from the war. In response, the non-governmental, human rights organization Forum of Conscience has begun to revive traditional conflict resolution measures to bring victims and ex-combatants together in reconciliation ceremonies.
Organizing Ex-Combatants for Peace in Mozambique
As violent civil conflicts end, ex-combatants are sometimes treated as a risk to social peace and stability. Yet, as one organization in Mozambique demonstrates, ex-combatants can be key players in the peacebuilding process, promoting peace and reconciliation, and mediating peaceful solutions to conflicts.
Ridell, Jennifer. Addressing Crimes Against International Law: Rwanda’s Gacaca in Practice
Rwanda experienced horrific genocide in 1994. In its aftermath, national and international trials were established but these trials failed to deal expeditiously with the large numbers of suspects awaiting trial. To combat this, Rwanda introduced an innovative participative justice mechanism, Gacaca. Modern Gacaca is based on a traditional Rwandan restorative justice mechanism of the same name. Its rooting in Rwanda's history makes Gacaca a much more acceptable form of justice to the Rwandan people than international trials given the international community's abandonment of Rwanda during the genocide. While Gacaca falls short of many international fair trial standards it remains Rwanda’s best hope as a wholly Rwandan process. But, Gacaca is more than just a judicial instrument, it has restorative justice at its origin and seeks, as its ultimate aim, to reconcile Rwanda’s divided communities. To reach this aim, Gacaca has several other objectives including discovering the truth of what happened in 1994, ending impunity which has plagued Rwanda since independence and allowing the Rwandan population to participate in the search for justice at a local level. This thesis studies the importance of these aims to Gacaca and whether the Gacaca courts are meeting their optimistic objectives in order to evaluate whether Gacaca is succeeding in Rwanda. Research was conducted through interviews throughout Rwanda and much civil society research was studied as well as material discussing the objectives from a more conceptual perspective. Gacaca's potential is outstanding and its objectives all play a very important role which, if met, will secure a much more stable future for Rwanda. In practice, however, these objectives are not being met. The population is not actively participating in the trials thus the truth is not aired. Moreover, the perception of victor's justice hampers the ability of Gacaca to end impunity in Rwanda.
Borland, Rosilyne M. The Gacaca Tribunals and Rwanda after Genocide: Effective Restorative Community Justice or Further Abuse of Human Rights?
The genocide in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 was one of the world’s most horrific acts of collective violence. National and international attempts to deal with suspected perpetrators of the genocide have not fulfilled expectations, remarks Rosilyne Borland. The national legal system of Rwanda, she also states, has failed to administer justice adequately. In response to all of this, and as pressure increases to address the past and process the thousands still in prison, the Rwandan government has devised an alternative justice mechanism. It is called gacaca. Some claim that gacaca is bringing healing and reconciliation to Rwanda. Others warn that it makes possible further human rights abuses. With all of this in view, Borland analyzes the gacaca law, its early implementation, and relevant justice theories (especially restorative justice and community justice theories). Her aim is to examine whether Rwanda is succeeding in achieving justice after the genocide of 1994.
Kibiti, Ruth N. Is Reconciliation Justice?
Ruth Kibiti begins this paper by observing that discussions on truth, reconciliation, and justice have proliferated in academic circles and human rights organizations in the last fifteen years. Much of the discussion has arisen because of human rights violations, struggles for independence, and questions of governance in Africa. Transitions from situations of human rights violations in countries toward new states and societies have necessitated reconciliation processes in pursuit of some form of unity in nations and societies. In this framework, Kibiti asks whether reconciliation is justice. Through her exploration of this question, she argues that reconciliation, truth, peace, and justice share a common relationship whereby one cannot be achieved without the others.
Tutu, Desmond. The Truth and Reconciliation Process: Restorative Justice
Presenting the Third Longford Lecture at Church House Westminster in 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu reflects on the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa as part of the transition from an apartheid to a post-apartheid society. He points out that negotiators of the peace that ended the conflict had to decide how to deal with the legacy of apartheid. They settled on what they considered a principled compromise - individual, not general, amnesty in exchange for the whole truth relation to the offense for which amnesty was being sought. In short, they opted for a process of "amnesty for truth." With all of this in mind, and with a focus on South Africa, Archbishop Tutu considers issues of truth, justice, amnesty, restorative justice, and reconciliation in relation to crimes and injustices.
Villa-Vicencio, Charles. A South African Experiment in Justice
This is an edited version of a paper presented by Charles Villa-Vincencio at the All-Africa Conference on African Principles of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in 1999. Villa-Vincencio – professor of religion and society at the University of Cape Town, and former director of research for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – characterizes the transition in South Africa from apartheid to post-apartheid as an experiment in justice. The transition came through a negotiated settlement, not through victory on the field or collapse of the former regime. Parties to the negotiation considered three options for dealing with human rights violations during apartheid: general amnesty; trials and prosecutions; or a truth commission. Villa-Vincencio discusses the decision in favor of a truth commission, the identity and focus of the commission, and questions about future prosecutions (for those who did not participate in the commission’s process) and about reparation for victims of human rights violations.
Ladikos, Anastasios and Prinsloo, Johan and Naudé, Beaty. Views of the Judiciary on Certain Elements of Restorative Justice
Members of the Restorative Justice Centre (RJC) and the Institute for Criminological Sciences at the University of South Africa (Unisa) formed a research team in July 2001 to plan and execute a research survey which aimed to raise awareness of restorative justice and its significance and applications. A questionnaire was developed to gather factual data and to determine the views (perceptions) of the judiciary about general views on the criminal justice system as well as specific points of restorative justice. The study was limited to the magisterial offices of Pretoria, Pretoria North, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, Temba and Mamelodi, which represent the main areas in which the RJC renders its services, making it reasonably representative of the context in which the RJC operates. Altogether 205 questionnaires were distributed to all prosecutors and magistrates working at these magisterial offices for their anonymous completion. A total of 73 questionnaires were returned, representing a response rate of 35,6%. Data from 69 (94,5%) of these questionnaires could be utilised and were computerised. Therefore the actual response rate decreased to 33,7%. This article focuses on the respondents' views of elements and objectives of restorative justice and restorative justice as a sentencing option. (Abstract courtesy of Acta Criminologica)
Ladikos, Anastasios and Prinsloo, Johan and Naudé, Beaty. Views of the Judiciary on the Criminal Justice System and Restorative Justice Training
Personnel of the Restorative Justice Centre (RJC) and the Institute for Criminological Sciences of the University of South Africa (Unisa) formed a research team in July 2001 to plan and execute a research survey; its objective was to assist in creating a greater awareness of restorative justice in general, as well as of its meaning and applications. A questionnaire was developed to gather factual data and to determine the views (perceptions) of the judiciary with regard to general views of the criminal justice system as well as specific aspects of restorative justice. The study was confined to the magisterial offices of Pretoria, Pretoria North, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, Themba and Mamelodi, which represent the main areas in which the RJC renders its services; this makes it reasonably representative of the context in which the RJC operates. Two hundred and five (205) questionnaires were distributed to all prosecutors and magistrates working at the aforementioned magisterial offices to be completed anonymously. Seventy-three (73) questionnaires were returned, which represented a response rate of 35,6%. The data of 69 (94,5%) of these questionnaires could be utilised and was therefore computerised. The actual response rate, therefore, decreased to 33,7%. This article focuses on the extent of respondents' knowledge of and training received in restorative justice practices, respondents' general views on the criminal justice system, recidivism and the sentencing triad (Abstract courtesy of Acta Criminologica)..
Stacey, Simon. A "New South Africa": The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Vexed Nation-building Project
With respect to the transition from an apartheid state and society to a post-apartheid state and society, much has been written about South Afric's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and much has been invested in the principles, goals, and outcomes of the TRC's approach and its actual achievements. Reflecting on the TRC at the end of the 1990s, Simon Stacey pursues two questions in this paper. The first has to with the TRC as an agent of nation-building. Specifically, given what is known about nationalism and nation-building, he looks at whether the TRC can succeed in building a nation in South Africa. The second question has to do with the characteristics of the nation which the TRC is seeking to establish. Here he explores the moral strengths and weaknesses of the TRC's conception of the nation.
Buur, Lars. Monumental History: Visibility and Invisibility in the Work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
This paper will explore one of the most striking features of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (hereafter SATRC): the extreme public exposure of the SATRC and simultaneous lack of knowledge about what the commission actually did while "bringing truth to light", "ascertaining the facts," "revealing" or "finding the truth about the past". (excerpt)
Maepa, Traggy and Friedman, Maggie and Mosikare, Ntombi and Hamber, Brandon. Speaking Out: The role of the Khulumani Victim Support Group in dealing with the past in South Africa
Khulumani is a self-help survivor support group that was started in 1995 in South Africa. The name Khulumani means "speak out" in Zulu. The group began in anticipation of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). One of the purposes of the TRC was to offer space to survivors to tell their stories of past violations and be heard. The TRC also had the power to grant amnesty to perpetrators of political atrocities who fully disclosed all the details of actions. This so-called trade of truth for justice was supposed to help uncover all the truth about the past and give victims answers to their unresolved cases. The TRC also had to make recommendations with regard to granting reparations to those, and their families, who were found to be victims of murder, attempted murder, torture or severe ill-treatment between March 1960 and May 1995 in South Africa. (excerpt)
O'Malley, Gabriel and Nageng, Dineo and Hamber, Brandon. "Telling it like it is.." Understanding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the Perspective of Survivors
The article focuses on survivors' perspectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It probes their feelings, thoughts and views both before and after interacting with the Commission. Their feelings and opinions about issues such as justice, punishment and amnesty are explored. This information, which forms the backbone of this article, was obtained from interviews with twenty survivors of political violence committed under the apartheid government. The article shows that healing, truth, justice and reconciliation are interrelated. For survivors the relationships between the concepts is not linear, that is truth does not automatically lead to reconciliation. The article demonstrates that those who interacted with the TRC held a range of largely legitimate expectations; most expected, at the very least, that they would get some truth about their case. Many are currently feeling let down by the TRC process, despite its successes at publicising the atrocities of the past and fostering national reconciliation. (author's abstract).
. Restorative justice and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Process.
It has frequently been argued that the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was committed to restorative justice (RJ), and that RJ has deep historical roots in African indigenous cultures by virtue of its congruence both with ubuntu and with African indigenous justice systems (AIJS). In this article, I look into the question of what RJ is. I also present the finding that the term ‘restorative justice’ appears only in transcripts of three public TRC hearings, and the hypothesis that the TRC first really began to take notice of the term ‘restorative justice’ after April 1997, when the South African Law Commission published an Issue Paper dealing with RJ. Furthermore, I show that neither the connection between RJ and ubuntu nor the connection between RJ and AIJS is as straightforward and unproblematic as often assumed. (author's abstract)
Editor. Application of Outcome Mapping in Transitional Justice Context: Social Transformation in Post-Conflict Liberia Building Community, Fostering Peace and Reconciliation
Dagomba International is working in three communities-Voinjama, Salayea, and Zorzor- in Lofa County to strengthen the prospects for peace, stability and foster a culture of reconciliation in the era of post-conflict reconstruction Liberia. Through Locally Initiated Networks for Community Strengthening (LINCS) Program, Dagomba has established Community Peace Councils (CPCs) in these three districts to enhance local capacity to mitigate conflict, violence, facilitate dispute resolution between ex-combatants and their host communities, in addition to their reintegration. Furthermore, CPCs seek to improve communication at all levels within the framework of national reconciliation. The program is also intended that the relationship between ex-combatants and victims is non acrimonious but of reconciliatory through peaceful return of internally displaced people, refugees and ex-combatants. In doing so Dagomba International facilitates working relationships between the CPCs and the National Ex-Combatant Peace Building Initiative (NEPI), a group of Liberian ex-combatants that seeks to share lessons learnt to their fellow ex-combatants. (excerpt)
Editor. Evaluating Experiences in Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Challenges and Opportunities for Advancing the Field
From the 2nd to the 4th of April 2007, practitioners in the field of Transitional Justice convened in a workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, to consider the challenges and opportunities for evaluating projects and programs whose principal objectives are linked to the goals of transitional justice. The group was also introduced to “Outcome Mapping” (OM) a planning, monitoring and evaluation methodology developed by IDRC and its partners, as one option for evaluating transitional justice interventions in Africa. This report seeks not only to document that discussion, but also to engender a dialogue that would explore the strengths and limitations of the Outcome Mapping Methodology for transitional justice in Africa; create a space wherein IDRC may continue to support this dialogue; create a reference group active on the continent to pursue the development of M & E tools in relation to transitional justice work and to influence the international development funding environment on appropriate evaluation methodologies, through robustly engaging practitioners on their experiences in the field. (excerpt)
Mpongola, Dieudonne Diku. Advocacy for the adoption of transitional justice mechanisms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This paper aims to share efforts made by the Congolese Coalition for Transitional Justice (Coalition Congolaise pour la Justice Transitionnelle, or CCJT) to effect the creation of special hybrid chambers within the Congolese judiciary. To this end, I will start by briefly describing the historical and political situation of the DRC, as well as the context in which the coalition was created. I will then explain our advocacy efforts, as well as the obstacles that we have met. Finally, the role of foreign actors will be described, as well as the reactions of various actors. But, first, I start by examining the role of civil society in the promotion of human rights. (excerpt)
Waheire, Wachira and Malombe, Davis. The unfinished business: The case of victims' unrelenting search for justice in Kenya.
For close to one century, Kenya like most other countries has gone through gruesome acts of impunity which have occasioned egregious violations of human rights without the resource for redress. To date, victims and their partner organizations are still seeking truth, justice and reconciliation. This paper presents the long struggle of victims of gross human rights violations in Kenya along the following framework:Introduction and Background; Victims’ Advocacy and Engagement Strategies in Kenya; Lessons and Challenges; Prognosis. (excerpt)

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