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Transitional Justice recognises that dealing with the past is a core part of building peace. Truth telling, memorialisation and political settlements dealing with distributive injustices sit beside war crimes tribunals, the International Criminal Court and the state legal apparatus.


What role for a truth commission in Colombia?

While a positive step in negotiations between warring parties, what are the limits of uncovering the dark truths of Colombia's conflict? 

Aziz’s notebook: transmitting the memory of violence

A granddaughter discovers her grandfather's notebook years after the political massacres that stole her mother and aunt. Beginning as a testimony of loss, it becomes an obsession to leave a trace against silence and denial. From States of Impunity.

The wounds of Baghdad's Frankenstein

Ahmed al-Sa'dawi's novel, rather than reconciling the complexities of violence in Iraq, seeks to exorcise the demons that haunt the lives of ordinary people left with wounds from decades of imperial brutality. From States of Impunity.

El Salvador’s gang truce: a lost opportunity?

The truce declared in 2012 may have been imperfect and controversial but positive lessons must be learned amid the country’s current crisis of violence.

Searching for justice: the Tokyo Women’s Tribunal

Justice for sexual crimes in wartime still remains elusive for many survivors, but it's never too late. From States of Impunity.

From punishment to acknowledgment: tribunals of opinion in contexts of impunity

Civil society tribunals, though unofficial, provide new spaces that fundamentally contest the state and its hold over justice. From States of Impunity.

States of impunity

openSecurity's new series explores how the violence of state crimes endures. How and when does the fight against impunity open up an arena for action and change?

Overlooked and invisible: the women of enforced disappearances

The overwhelming majority of the victims of enforced disappearances are men. What happens to the women left behind? 

Military immunity: Colombia's moment of choice

Will Colombia force its military to face up to its past human rights abuses?  

Dominic Ongwen and the slow-grinding wheels of the International Criminal Court

He may not be a household name but his eventual trial at the ICC may highlight the long-forgotten victims of the conflict in Uganda and beyond involving the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Ethnicised justice and dealing with the past in ex-Yugoslavia

There was much hope in the international community that the Hague war-crimes tribunal on former Yugoslavia, allied to domestic proceedings, could point the region to a reconciled future. It was not to be.

South Africa’s parliament and the politicisation of the police

The police were a symbol of the old, apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately they are becoming a symbol of the ‘new South Africa’ too.

Civilian justice trumps military impunity in Myanmar

The rare conviction of a soldier in civilian court shows how, case by case, the criminal justice system is slowly taking a stand against the country's still-powerful military. 

“There was so much fear”

The outworking of the eight-year-old peace agreement in Nepal has embraced the government and its Maoist opponents. The women who were victims of sexual violence from both sides during the conflict have, however, been left out.

The arrest of Cristian Labbé breathes new life into Chile's human rights struggle

New charges indict one of the most ensconced figures on the Chilean right, and a symbol of the enduring impunity for members of Pinochet's regime. 

The International Criminal Court must fix its anti-African image

The International Criminal Court is often presented as "racist" in Africa because of its focus on indictees from the continent. But the problem lies elsewhere.

The body of Colombian women is a battleground

A catalogue of sexual violence has accompanied the armed conflict in Colombia. The peace talks must not brush it under the carpet.

Famine crimes in South Sudan

The fighting factional leaders in South Sudan have not just been engaging each other’s forces: they have dragooned the civilian population into a wider campaign of devastation.

Uncovering Colombia's systems of macro-criminality

While transitional justice initiatives have traditionally shied away from dismantling the system, Colombia's Justice and Peace Law has taken the first steps towards exposing the political and economic roots of paramilitarism, and the deep state tangled around them. Español.

How Qatar's hand casts Syrian shadows

As Qatar assumes an increasing role in the political diplomacy of the Middle East, its subtler interventions in Syria's civil war continue unquestioned.

Nepal's Truth and Reconciliation Commission: revised, but revitalized?

Nepali citizens have long been denied justice, but continued civil society pressure on the new, long-delayed Constituent Assembly will hopefully improve parliamentary efforts to give the dragging peace process and long-awaited Truth and Reconciliation Commission some resolution. 

Afghan media face an uncertain future

The presidential election has shown Afghanistan’s increasingly mature media scene at its best – hopefully not for the last time.

Counting the cost of conflict

Casualty recording has redefined efforts to protect civilians in conflict, and provide aid and accountability to victims of violence. But with an absence of political will to respond to conflict, what good are the numbers? 

Community policing or counter-terrorism: What was Britain doing in Sri Lanka?

Why were the British delivering a 'community policing' program during and after Sri Lanka's 2009 civil war? And why are 'national security and counter-terrorism' the reasons for refusing disclosure about it?

Still searching for justice: victims in Sri Lanka

Five years on from the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the international community’s patience with the government in investigating gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law is exhausted.

Truth is the legacy we want

An op-ed from six youth activists in countries where official truth seeking initiatives are underway or being demanded reveals commonalities in the search for dignity, truth and acknowledgment of crimes. 

Fish rot from the head

Torture is routine practice in South Africa's police stations and prisons. A lineage of impunity, traced from apartheid, has meant de facto immunity for perpetrators. With South Africa celebrating its 'Human Rights Day' this weekend, the shocking reality behind its prison walls must be a central focus.

Extending a hand or raising a fist to the state?

From mobile phones to crowdsourced election monitoring, an in-depth look at how communication technologies are transforming citizen engagement and societal accountability in Southeast Asia.

"There is Marikana everyday in South Africa" - an interview with Abahlali baseMjondolo

Film: Struggling for the right to decent housing and against the criminalisation of poverty, South African shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo face severe police repression. Here S'bu Zikode outlines the lethal consequences of police militarisation and the ANC's political capture of the police.

Un espejo doloroso

10 años después de que la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación del Perú publicara su informe final sobre las dos décadas de conflicto armado, ¿cuál es el impacto del trabajo de la comisión en la sociedad? English.

Peru's painful mirror

10 years after Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report following two decades of armed conflict, what is the impact on Peruvian society? Español

Hijacked justice? Truth and reconciliation in Sri Lanka

After decades of civil war, Sri Lanka is looking to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide a model for post-conflict justice. But will this work in Sri Lanka, or will it lead to impunity for war criminals?

Sri Lanka’s twin challenges

The Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo was the occasion for renewed demands that the state account for the brutal ending of its war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009. But Sri Lanka's appalling human-rights record does not only apply to its violent past: today too civil-society organisations are under heavy authoritarian pressure.

War crimes and international borders

After war, justice may come late or not at all: the decision to try defendants without them being present suggests the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal is not confident of gaining an extradition order. 

Professor Ghulam Azam: a flawed conviction and miscarriage of justice

On the basis of a flawed trial bereft of substantial evidence, my father has now been sentenced to 90 years in prison. The Bangladeshi people must decide whether justice for crimes past is really being acheived for a better, more cohesive Bangladesh.

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