Day2 Intro Truth Commissions WorldPresentation Transcript
Truth Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry around the World Truth and Reconciliation: Politics and Possibilities of Memory Unit presented by Angela Contreras-Chavez Aug 12, 2008 Interfaith Institute for Peace, Justice, and Social Movements Burnaby, BC.
Locate Canada’s TC in the international context of TCs
Become familiar with the components that provide for uniqueness in every TC and Commissions of Inquire
Only in the Third World?
Argentina, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leona, South Africa, South Korea, East Timor, USA, ….
In plain language:
No victors’ justice
No names (facts not faults!)
Sponsor / State
Human rights violations only
Outcomes (report, social programs….)
Scope of Investigation with respect to types of human rights violations
Time Horizon for Investigation
Geographic horizon for Investigation
Legal Powers of Investigation
Access to state/military files and other sources of information
Purpose/Envisioned scope of recommendations
Operational clarity of mandate
Degree of Flexibility/Freedom allowed by mandate
What do we know about…
South Africa: T&R
Guatemala: REHMI, CEH (T&J)
Rwanda: GACACA (T&R)
What other example can you think of?
How do we know what we know?
Look for the components of the following examples of truth commissions or commissions of inquiry
In February 1991, the eight-member National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation , established in 1990 by then-President Patricio Aylwin, released its report. The Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation is popularly known as the Rettig Report for former Senator Raul Rettig, president of the commission. Other members of the commission were Jaime Castillo Velasco, Jose Luis Cea Egaña, Mónica Jiménez de la Jara, Laura Novoa Vásquez, José Zalaquett Daher, Ricardo Martín Díaz, and Gonzalo Vial Correa. The commission's mandate encompassed human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance during years of military rule beginning on September 11, 1973 and ending on March 11, 1990.
Sources: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts 03/06/1991; Los Angeles Times 09/07/1990; Esteban Cuya, " Las Comisiones de la Verdad en America Latina . " http://www.derechos.org/koaga/iii/1/cuya.html (March 1, 1999).
The Commission of Truth and Reconciliation was set up in 1995 by the South African parliament to investigate human rights violations during the apartheid-era between 1960 and 1994. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired the 17-member body. The commission held public hearings throughout South Africa at which former victims of human rights abuses told their stories. The commission's amnesty committee 7,124 applications by perpetrators of such violations as of December 9, 1998, and is currently continuing to process them. A reparation and rehabilitation committee was established to recommend appropriate forms of compensation for human rights victims. The commission's report was presented to President Mandela in October 1998 and is available online through links on the commission's web site.
Sources: The Ottawa Citizen 10/30/1998; Priscilla B. Hayner, "Fifteen Truth Commissions–1974 to 1994: A Comparative Study," Human Rights Quarterly , v. 16, no. 4, November 1994, pp. 597-655; Truth and Reconciliation Commission Amnesty Committee, http://www/truth.org.za/amnesty.htm (April 14, 1999).
The Gacaca (pronounced "gachacha") court
is part of a system of community justice inspired by tradition and established in 2001 in Rwanda, in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, when between 400,000 and 1,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsi, were slaughtered. After the Genocide, the new Rwandan Patriotic Front's government struggled with developing just means for the humane detention and prosecution of the more than 100,000 people accused of genocide, war crimes, and related crimes against humanity. By 2000, approximately 120,000 alleged genocidaires were crammed into Rwanda's prisons and communal jails (Reyntjens & Vandeginste 2005, 110). From December 1996 to December 2006, the courts managed to try about 10,000 suspects (Human Rights Watch 2004, 18): at that rate it would take another 110 years to prosecute all the prisoners.
To speed things up, some prisoners were released: In two rounds, in 2004 and 2005, about 50,000 prisoners were released. Just recently (January 2007) it has been decided to release another 8,000 prisoners.
Official Objectives of the Gacaca Court System
The "mission" of this system is to achieve "truth, justice, [and] reconciliation." It aims to promote community healing by making the punishment of perpetrators faster and less expensive to the state.
The reconstruction of what happened during the genocide
The speeding up of the legal proceedings by using as many courts as possible
The reconciliation of all Rwandans and building their unity
The Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) was established on June 23, 1994, as part of peace agreements between the Guatemalan government and the National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit (URNG), to investigate human rights violations in the 36-year armed conflict in this country.
The commission was chaired by German law professor Christian Tomuschatof Berlin's Humboldt University, and included two Guatemalans: lawyer Edgar Balsells, and Otilia Lux Coti, a Mayan woman and university professor of pedagogy.
In a public ceremony in Guatemala City on February 25, 1999, the commission's final report, entitled in English Guatemala: Memory of Silence , was turned over to representatives of the Guatemalan government and URNG as well as of the U.N. secretary general, who is charged with its public release.
The CEH report in Spanish and the conclusion, recommendations and appendices of the report in both Spanish and English are available on the web site of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Sources: Reuters 02/22/1997; Deutsche Presse-Agentur 07/25/1998; Inter Press Service 08/01/1997; Noti-Sur 06/24/1994; New York Times 02/26/1999; "Agreement on the Establishment of the Commission to Clarify Past Human Rights Violations and Acts of Violence That Have Caused the Guatemalan Population to Suffer." United States Institute of Peace Library: Peace Agreements Digital Collection: Guatemala . June 24, 1994. www.usip.org/library/pa/guatemala/guat_940623.html (August 27, 1999).