The Truth About Reconciliation Commissions
Talk of reconciliation between the warring parties in
Don't get me wrong, expectatations are low that talks will actually take place before the next round of bloodletting, which too frequently occurs in and around mosques during Friday prayers. There also isn't a whole lot of optimism thatPrime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's reconciliation plan will go forward, but it's encouraging that it even has been proposed.
Al-Maliki's plan necessarily includes a provision for granting armed thugs amnesty, which has raised fears that it would be an invitation to attack U.S. troops and there would be an increase in such attacks.
On Tuesday, the prime minister sought to assure the U.S. that such attacks would not be covered under an amnesty. We'll see.
Such commissions are tasked with revealing past wrongdoing by a government in the hope of resolving past conflicts. They typically are established by states emerging from periods of great instability.The historic record of such commissions is decidedly mixed.
They have been marginally successful in
The TRC was a court-like body. Anyone who felt they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard, while perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.
No one was exempt from being charged. This included ordinary citizens, police officers and members of Mandela’s own African National Congress, the ruling party at the time the TRC operated.
The commission heard testimony from many witnesses about secret and immoral acts committed by the apartheid government, ANC and other liberation forces that would not have come out into the open otherwise.
In the end, 5,392 people were refused amnesty and 849 were granted amnesty.
In1998, the commission presented its final report, which condemned both sides for committing atrocities.
The TRC was a crucial component of the transition to full democracy inFor more on the commission, go here.
and was by highly successful by nearly all measures. South Africa
For more on this commission, go here.