Truth commission
Overview
 
A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government (or, depending on the circumstances, non-state actors also), in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, or dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by President
President of South Africa
The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africa's Constitution. From 1961 to 1994, the head of state was called the State President....

 Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 after apartheid, is popularly considered a model of truth commissions.

As government reports, they can provide proof against historical revisionism of state terrorism
State terrorism
State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

 and other crimes and human rights abuses.
Encyclopedia
A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government (or, depending on the circumstances, non-state actors also), in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, or dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by President
President of South Africa
The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africa's Constitution. From 1961 to 1994, the head of state was called the State President....

 Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 after apartheid, is popularly considered a model of truth commissions.

As government reports, they can provide proof against historical revisionism of state terrorism
State terrorism
State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

 and other crimes and human rights abuses. Truth commissions are sometimes criticised for allowing crimes to go unpunished, and creating impunity
Impunity
Impunity means "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice and redress...

 for serious human rights abusers. Their roles and abilities in this respect depend on their mandates, which vary widely. Often, there is a public mandate to bring past human rights violators to justice, though in some cases (such as Argentina after 1983 and Chile after 1990), abuses of human rights have gone unpunished under truth commissions due to threats of antidemocratic coups by the powerful parties who endure in the military. In this sense, the militaries in question, having ceded control to a civilian government, insist that the "price" of ending their own military rule must be full impunity for any of their past abuses. In some cases, such as the "Full Stop" law of Argentina that prevented prosecution of officers of the military junta, this impunity has been enshrined in law under the civilian government.

One of the difficult issues that has arisen over the role of truth commissions in transitional societies, has centered around what should be the relationship between truth commissions and criminal prosecutions.

Argentina

  • The National Commission for Forced Disappearances
    Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas
    National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons was an Argentine organization created by President Raúl Alfonsín on 15 December 1983, shortly after his inauguration, to investigate the fate of the desaparecidos and other human rights violations performed during the military dictatorship...

     (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas) investigated human rights violations, including 30,000 forced disappearances
    Forced disappearance
    In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

    , committed during the Dirty War
    Dirty War
    The Dirty War was a period of state-sponsored violence in Argentina from 1976 until 1983. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas and alleged sympathizers, either proved or suspected...

    . The report produced by the commission included individual cases on 9,000 disappeared persons. However, in most cases, the commission was only able to determine the status of those disappeared, rather than being able to name the victimizers.

Brazil

  • The non-punitive Comissão Nacional da Verdade
    Comissão Nacional da Verdade
    The Comissão Nacional da Verdade was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 21 September 2011. Originally planned to investigate human rights violations during the military dictatorship of 1964–1985, it will investigate violations in the period of 1946–1988...

    is awaiting sanction by President Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Vana Rousseff is the 36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she was also the first woman to become Chief of Staff of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva....

    . The commission will last for two years and consist of seven members appointed by President Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Vana Rousseff is the 36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she was also the first woman to become Chief of Staff of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva....

    . Members of the commission will have access to all government files about the 1946–1988 period and may convene victims or people accused of violations for testimony, although it will not be mandatory for them to attend. After the end of the two years period, the commission will issue a report with its findings. The group will not have, however, the obligation to disclose everything they discover.

Canada

  • The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an impending truth commission organized by the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The commission is part of an overall holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian residential school legacy...

     is a currently active (as of February 2011) commission investigating human rights abuses in the Canadian Indian residential school system.

Colombia

  • The National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation: Task to help victims to recover from the armed conflict. www.cnrr.org.co

Chile

  • The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Rettig Report
    The Rettig Report, officially The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report, is a 1991 report by a commission designated by then President Patricio Aylwin encompassing human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance that occurred in Chile during the years of military rule...

     (Comisión Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliación; "Rettig Report") investigated deaths and disappearances, particularly for political reasons, under Augusto Pinochet
    Augusto Pinochet
    Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

    's rule. The report was released in 1991.
  • The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture
    Valech Report
    The Valech Report was a record of abuses committed in Chile between 1973 and 1990 by agents of Augusto Pinochet's military regime. The report was published on November 29, 2004 and detailed the results of a six-month investigation. A revised version was released on June 1, 2005...

     ("Valech Report") also investigated human rights abuses from the reign of Augusto Pinochet. Released in 2004 and 2005, the commission differed from the previous one in that it investigated non-fatal violations of human rights, such as torture, and also covered children whose parents had disappeared or been killed. The report of this commission was used by the government of Chile to give out pensions and other benefits to survivors.

El Salvador

  • Established by the United Nations (instead of the Government of El Salvador), the establishment of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador
    Commission on the Truth for El Salvador
    The Truth Commission for El Salvador was a truth commission established by the United Nations to investigate and report on human rights abuses during the civil war in El Salvador ....

    (Comisión de la Verdad) (United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

    ) was part of Chapultepec Peace Accords
    Chapultepec Peace Accords
    The Chapultepec Peace Accords brought peace to El Salvador in 1992 after more than a decade of wrenching civil war.The treaty was negotiated by representatives of the Salvadoran government, the rebel movement FMLN, and political parties, with observers from the Roman Catholic Church and United...

     to end the Salvadoran Civil War. The commission investigated murders and executions committed during the war, including that of Óscar Romero
    Óscar Romero
    Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980....

    . However, Romero's murder has to this date not been prosecuted, mostly due to the post-war entrenchment of politicians from the Arena party formerly led by Roberto D'Aubuisson (who led the death squads that assassinated him).

Guatemala

  • Historical Clarification Commission
    Historical Clarification Commission
    The Historical Clarification Commission was Guatemala's truth and reconciliation commission.The creation of the CEH was ordered by the Oslo Accords of 1994 that sought to bring an end to the Central American nation's three-decade-long Civil War, during which an estimated 200,000 people lost their...

     (Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico)

Morocco

  • Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER).

Peru

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Peru)
    The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2001 after the fall of president Alberto Fujimori, to examine abuses committed during the 1980s and 1990s, when Peru was plagued by the worst political violence in the history of the republic...

     (Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación)

Philippines

  • In 2010, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino
    Benigno Aquino III
    Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III , also known as Noynoy Aquino or PNoy, is a Filipino politician who has been the 15th and current President of the Philippines since June 2010....

     announced that a Truth Commission will be formed to investigate unresolved issues concerning the previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
    Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
    Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a Filipino politician who served as the 14th President of the Philippines from 2001 to 2010, as the 12th Vice President of the Philippines from 1998 to 2001, and is currently a member of the House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of Pampanga...

    . On July 30, 2010, a month after being sworn-in as the 15th President of the Philippines
    President
    A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

    , Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1, creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010.. However, the Supreme Court of the Philippines
    Supreme Court of the Philippines
    The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

     invalidated the executive order because of its apparent transgression of the equal protection clause
    Equal Protection Clause
    The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"...

     for singling out the Arroyo administration. In his ponencia
    Majority opinion
    In law, a majority opinion is a judicial opinion agreed to by more than half of the members of a court. A majority opinion sets forth the decision of the court and an explanation of the rationale behind the court's decision....

     in Biraogo vs. Truth Commission, Justice
    Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
    An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines is one of 15 members of the Philippine Supreme Court, the highest court in the Philippines. The Chief Justice presides over the High Court, but carries only 1 of the 15 votes in the court...

     Jose C. Mendoza
    Jose C. Mendoza
    Jose Catral Mendoza is the 168th magistrate of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.- Legal career :A political science graduate of the University of the Philippines, Jose Mendoza took up his law studies in the San Beda College of Law where he led the establishment of...

     blatantly tagged Aquino's Truth Commission "as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution."

Sierra Leone

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Sierra Leone)
    The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as a condition of the Lomé Peace Accord with the assistance of the international community in the wake of the 11 year civil war there. It was signed by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and RUF leader Foday Sankoh on July 7, 1999...


Solomon Islands

  • As of September 2008, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Solomon Islands)
    The Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a commission officially established by the government of the Solomon Islands on April 29, 2009. It has been formed to investigate the causes of the ethnic violence that gripped the Solomon Islands between 1997 and 2003...

     has been proposed by the government. Its aim would be to "address people’s traumatic experiences during the five year ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal (1999-2004)". It would be modelled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected...

     of South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    . In late August 2008, Sam Iduri
    Sam Iduri
    Shemuel Sam Iduri is a Solomon Islands politician.After studying at teachers' colleges in Solomon Islands and in Western Australia, he worked as a secondary school principal, then as education officer....

    , Minister for Peace and Reconciliation, introduced a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Bill to Parliament. In February 2009, it was reported that Archbishop Desmond Tutu
    Desmond Tutu
    Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid...

    , former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, would visit the Solomons in April to assist in setting up the Commission.

South Africa

  • After the transition from apartheid, President
    President of South Africa
    The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africa's Constitution. From 1961 to 1994, the head of state was called the State President....

     Nelson Mandela
    Nelson Mandela
    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

     and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu authorized a truth commission to study the effects of apartheid in that country. The commission was simply called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

South Korea

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Korea)
    South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission , established on December 1, 2005, is a governmental body responsible for investigating incidents in Korean history which occurred starting from Japan's rule of Korea in 1910 up until the end of Authoritarian Rule in Korea with the election of...


East Timor

  • Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor
    Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor
    The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor was an independent truth commission established in East Timor in 2001 under the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and charged to “inquire into human rights violations committed...

     (Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação de Timor Leste; 2001–2005)
  • Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship
    Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship
    The Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship is a truth commission established by Indonesia and East Timor in August 2005. Its mandate is to investigate human rights violations by Indonesia and its armed forces during the occupation of East Timor, particularly the events and...

     (2005–2008)

See also

  • Truth-seeking
    Truth-seeking
    Truth-seeking processes allow societies to examine and come to grips with past crimes and atrocities and prevent their future repetition. Truth-seeking often occurs in societies emerging from a period of prolonged conflict or authoritarian rule...

     processes allow societies to examine and come to grips with past crimes and atrocities and prevent their future repetition. Truth-seeking often occurs in societies emerging from a period of prolonged conflict or authoritarian rule.
  • The German policy of Vergangenheitsbewältigung
    Vergangenheitsbewältigung
    Vergangenheitsbewältigung is a composite German word that describes processes of dealing with the past , which is perhaps best rendered in English as "struggle to come to terms with the past"...

    is commonly compared to truth and reconciliation
  • transitional justice
    Transitional justice
    Transitional justice generally refers to a range of approaches that states may use to address past human rights violations and includes both judicial and non-judicial approaches. They include series of actions or policies and their resulting institutions, which may be enacted at a point of...


External links

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