ch07 law.pdf

Click here to load reader

  • date post

    13-Nov-2015
  • Category

    Documents

  • view

    233
  • download

    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript of ch07 law.pdf

  • Aretruthandreconciliationcommissionsaneffectivemeansofdealingwithstateorganisedcriminality?DanielPascoe*

    Whenanationpassesoutofaperiodoftyrannyoroppressionthereis often a sense that those responsible for past persecution andinjusticesshouldbepunished.Whilemanyformerdictatorsorhighgovernmentofficialsseektoprotectthemselvesthroughselfgrantedamnestiesorimmunitiesthesearenowatriskduetodevelopmentsinthe internationalcommunity,whichcastdoubtonthe legalityofsuchprotections.Betweenamnestyandpunishment,however,liesathirdoptionthetruthandreconciliationcommission.Designedtogive a voice to victims and perpetrators alike, these commissionshave become an increasingly popular tool in postconflictreconstruction. There is growing concern, however, thatcommissionshavebecomeanewvehiclethroughwhichwrongdoerscanescapeprosecution.Thisworkexaminesthehistoryofthetruthand reconciliation commission, in its various forms, from postapartheidSouthAfricatothenewSouthAmericandemocraciesandthrough to the latest commission, set up in the new state of EastTimor.

    IntroductionSocieties emerging from conflict, in which a democratic governmentreplacesarepressiveone,facethedifficultquestionofhowtodealwithhuman rights abuses perpetrated under the previous regime. Theprocesses that hope to effectively account for such abuses, and toachieve a lasting peace, are debated within the field of transitionaljustice. One of the foremost options for states seeking transitionaljusticeisthetruthandreconciliationcommission.

    *DanielPascoehasjustcompletedaBachelorofAsianStudies(Honours)/BachelorofLaws(Honours)degreeattheAustralianNationalUniversity.HeisaformerresidentofBruceHall.

  • Crosssections|VolumeIII2007

    94

    Although the first truth commissions,broadly conceived,appeared inthe early 20th century,1 there have been two notable surges in theirpopularity during the last 20 years. The first increase in popularitycoincided with the democratic transitions in many Latin Americannationsinthe1980s,whereasthesecondperiodaroseinresponsetotheworkoftheSouthAfricanTruthandReconciliationCommission(TRC),themostcomprehensiveexerciseintruthtellingeverseen.2 Alongtheway,variousclaimshavebeenmaderegardingthebenefitsoftruthandreconciliation commissions in promoting effective and lasting nationbuildingafterperiodsofsocietalconflict,withnearlyallpositiveclaimsmetbyscepticalresponses.3

    Thisarticlesetsout theperceivedadvantagesof truthcommissions indealing with state crime, as put forward by scholars, governmentofficials, victims, and other parties. Criticism of those perceivedadvantages will also be considered in an attempt to address theshortcomingsofsome truthcommissionmodelsand to furtherensuretheireffectivenessinthefuture.

    TheMultiplicityofTruthCommissionsIt is important tokeep inmindwhendiscussing the relativevalueoftruth commissions as instruments of peacebuilding that the powers,aims and composition of such bodies have varied greatly betweendifferentnations,andaccordingtodifferenthistoricaltrends.AsStanleyobserves,theprincipalfunctionofalltruthcommissionsistorecordtheextent and scale of serious violence through the use of testimony,4however,thisiswherethesimilarityends.

    1ThefirstinvestigativecommissionsintoatrocitieswerethethosearisingfromtheBalkanWarsof191213,andTurkishandGermanactionsduringtheFirstWorldWar:M.A.Weiner,DefeatingHatredwithTruth:anArgumentinSupportofaTruthCommissionasPartoftheSolutiontotheIsraeliPalestinianConflict(2005)38ConnecticutLawReview129.2J.Sarkin&E.Daly,TooManyQuestions,TooFewAnswers:ReconciliationinTransitionalSocieties(2004)35ColumbiaHumanRightsLawReview661,723;J.Laakso,InPursuitofTruth,JusticeandReconciliation:TheTruthCommissionsofEastTimorandSouthAfrica(2003)22(2)SocialAlternatives44.3T.G.Phelps,ShatteredVoices:Language,ViolenceandtheWorkofTruthCommissions(2004)124.4E.Stanley,TruthCommissionsandtheRecognitionofStateCrime(2005)45BritishJournalofCriminology582.Hence,modelssuchasGermanysresearchbasedcommission

  • Truthcommissionsandstateorganisedcriminality|DanielPascoe 95

    Looking at the different types of truth commissions that have beenemployedinpostconflictsocietiesoverthelastfewdecades,mostwerestatutorygovernmentbodies (eg.SouthAfricasTRC),although somehave been inaugurated by executive decree (Chile),5 under a UnitedNations mandate (El Salvador and TimorLeste), and others byinternational(Rwanda)ordomesticNGOs(Brazil).6Mostcommissionsworktoalimitedtimeframe,althoughthoseofChadandUgandaaretorunforanindefiniteperiod.7Thecommissionstermsofreferencemayallowittolookatapatternofabusesoveranumberofdecades(ChileandSouthAfrica),orinsteadfocusonspecificcrimesorspecificgroupsofperpetrators.8Somemayrevealtheidentitiesofperpetrators(TimorLeste)andsomemaynot(Chile,Guatemala). Someattemptamassiveexercise in public participation andmobilisation (SouthAfrica, SierraLeone), whereas other commissions are smaller and more secretive(Guatemala,SriLanka,Haiti).9 Finally,somecommissionshavebroadpowersofsubpoena,searchandseizure,ortomakerecommendations,whilstothersdonot.10Asisevident,thetruthcommissionisaflexibleinstitution,capableofbeingadaptedtodifferentnationalcircumstances.

    Whether or not a truth commission report is accompanied by arecommendation foramnesty forsomeorallperpetrators isespeciallycontroversial,asthisisthebasisformuchofthedebateoverrestorativeversus retributive justice processes in peacebuilding. The truthcommissions of Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Chile and SouthAfricaincludedvariousconditionalandunconditionalamnestiesaspart

    intothepracticesoftheGermanDemocraticRepublicbetween1949and1989willnotbediscussedhere:seeR.Daye,PoliticalForgiveness:LessonsfromSouthAfrica(2004)44.5R.I.Rotberg,TruthCommissionsandtheProvisionofTruth,JusticeandReconciliationinR.I.Rotberg&D.Thompson(eds.),Truthv.Justice:theMoralityofTruthCommissions(2000)13.6Sarkin&Daly,aboven2,723.7Ibid.8Ibid.9Ibid;Rotberg,aboven5,4.10Sarkin&Daly,aboven2,723;C.Stahn,AccommodatingIndividualCriminalResponsibilityandNationalReconciliation:TheUNTruthCommissionforEastTimor(2001)95AmericanJournalofInternationalLaw952,955;seealsoUnitedNationsTransitionalAdministrationforEastTimor,RegulationNo.2001/10:OntheEstablishmentofaCommissionforReception,TruthandReconciliationinEastTimor,13July2001,s21(2).

  • Crosssections|VolumeIII2007

    96

    of theirwork,whereas thoseofRwanda,YugoslaviaandTimorLeste(forseriouscrimes)didnot.11

    Despite thefact that internationalhumanrightsandhumanitarian lawplaceslimitsontheprovisionofamnestiesforgenocide,warcrimesandcrimesagainsthumanity,12thisarticlewillnotprecludetheuseofsuchamnesties merely on the basis of their legality or otherwise withininternational law. In lookingat themethodsbywhichapostconflictsociety can heal itself and prevent further bloodshed, a full range ofinstitutionalmodelsmustbeconsidered.13AsSarkinandDalynote:

    Crimes of state are both legal and political. Reconstruction ofcommunitylikewisehasbothlegalandpoliticaldimensions.14

    ClaimsabouttheEffectsofTruthCommissions:AdvocatesandDetractorsThere is increasing agreement amongst theorists and practitioners oftransitional justice that some form of accounting for the past is anecessaryprerequisite to achieve lastingpeace in societiespreviouslyafflictedbyconflict.15 A failure todeal sufficientlywith thepastmaycreatemistrustbetweengroups insocietyand towards the institutionsof state.16 Importantly,proponentsof suchavieware foundonbothsidesof the restorativeversus retributive justicedebate. However, istheformalmechanismofanationaltruthandreconciliationcommissiontheappropriatemechanismtoaccountforstatecrime?Asnotedabove,

    11D.Mendeloff,TruthSeeking,TruthTelling,andPostconflictPeacebuilding:CurbtheEnthusiasm?(2004)6InternationalStudiesReview355,367;Laakso,aboven2,49;Stahn,aboven10,958.12I.Simunovic,DealingwiththeLegacyofPastWarCrimesandHumanRightsAbuses:ExperiencesandTrends.(2004)2JournalofInternationalCriminalJustice701,702703.13TheUruguayancaseisoneexamplewhereacomprehensiveamnestyprograminitiallywentaheadwithpopularsupport:SarkinandDaly,aboven2,702.14Ibid,688,emphasisadded.15Ibid,669670;G.Gentilucci,TruthTellingandAccountabilityinDemocratizingNations:TheCasesAgainstChilesAgustoPinochetandSouthKoreasChunDooHwanandRohTaeWoo(2005)5ConnecticutPublicInterestLawJournal79;peaceheremaybedefinedastheabsenceofwar,inadditiontosocialequalityanddemocracy:Mendeloff,aboven11,363.16A.Fleschenberg,etal.,StatementoftheReflectionGroup(paperproducedasaresultoftheDealingwithaBurdenedPastTransitionalJusticeandDemocratizationConference,Berlin,Germany,2021April2006).

  • Truthcommissionsandstateorganisedcriminality|DanielPascoe 97

    themanytypesoftruthcommissionsallshareonecommonfeature,thatofatruthseekingmandate,andhenceitisthiscommonfeaturethatwillbethemainfocusofthisarticleinattemptingtoanswerthisquestion.

    The paragraphs below look at the various (sometimes overlapping)justifications advanced for the use of truth and reconciliationcommissions, as opposed to predominantly retributive justiceprocedures,particularly formalcriminalprosecutions. Significantly, itis throughaperception thatrestorative justiceprocesses,suchastruthand reconciliation commissions, can serve a number of purposesbeyond the reachof thedomestic and international court system thattheirpopularityhasdeveloped.17 Aswillbenoted,someoftheclaimsin support of truth commissions are meritorious, whereas some aremisguided. Heeding lessons from the past will enable the truthcommissions of the future to follow a model that increases theireffectiveness.

    SocialHealingandReconciliationThe firstclaim that ismadeabout thevalueof truthtelling is t