The International Center for Transitional Justice is an international non-profit organization specializing in the field of transitional justice.ICTJ works to help societies in transition address legacies of massive human rights violations and build civic trust in state institutions as protectors of human rights.In the aftermath of mass atrocity and repression, we assist institutions and civil society groups - the people who are driving and shaping change in their societies - in considering measures to provide truth, accountability, and redress for past abuses.
Policy and Research Papers
This case study seeks to provide basic information and policy analysis on the deployment of international judges and prosecutors in Kosovo, a program that was established under the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in 1999. It is part of a series that aims to provide information and analysis on policy and practical issues facing hybrid courts. In Kosovo, hybrid courts were established when international capacity was injected into the domestic legal system. The lessons that can be drawn from this experience are divided into the following areas:
• A brief history of the conflict in Kosovo
• Background to the establishment of the international judges and prosecutors (IJP) program
• A description of the IJP program
• Prosecutorial strategy and case selection
• Legal framework
• Court administration and witness protection
• Cost and efficiency
• Relationship with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and other transitional justice mechanisms
• Outreach, public perceptions, and ownership
• Exit strategy and legacy
The purpose of this case study is to provide basic information, some of which is still not widely available, on these areas to guide policymakers and stakeholders in establishing and implementing similar mechanisms. Similar case studies have been developed on Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste.
Postconflict societies are characterized by lack of the rule of law, past and present gross human rights violations, impunity, and economic devastation and decay. In response to past human rights violations, a variety of measures have been developed, including prosecutions at both international and domestic levels, truth commissions, and reparations for victims. All these options need strong institutions. In postconflict and post-authoritarian societies, this often requires reforming or rebuilding the judicial system and its supporting services. This paper draws connections between judicial reform, transitional justice, and development in transitional contexts.
Linkages between Justice-Sensitive Security Sector Reform and Displacement: Examples of Police and Justice Reform from Liberia and Kosovo
This ICTJ paper explores the linkages between SSR and displacement. It looks at examples drawn primarily from two post-conflict areas undergoing SSR—Liberia and Kosovo—to understand previous experiences with these linkages. It focuses on: first, ways in which SSR initiatives either incorporated or failed to incorporate justice-sensitive approaches to durable solutions with regards to displacement; and second, whether and how these linkages enhanced or impeded the implementation of durable solutions and SSR initiatives. The focus is on rule of law reform, especially with regard to police and justice systems, set in the wider context of SSR strategies and initiatives. Police and justice reform are directly connected to durable solutions because: first, effective rule of law is essential for a secure environment, and therefore a necessary precondition for the return, resettlement/repatriation, and local integration of displaced populations; and second, they are the most visible public security institutions for local populations, and are therefore critical for demonstrating integrity and building legitimacy with displaced populations.
Follow this link to view the publication on the ICTJ website.
SSR refers to the variety of constitutional, legal, and policy changes that may be required to infuse the principles of accountability, professionalism, and efficiency into a security sector which has had a history of operating beyond the rule of law. Experiences from post-conflict and transitional societies such as Sierra Leone and South Africa show that improving security governance helps create peace and other suitable conditions for meaningful social reconstruction and development to take place. Security agencies must work in the interests of citizens hence the need to transform the framework for security governance.
SSR involves bringing security agencies under civilian control and aligning their operations to international best practices. SSR also involves transforming the underlying values, norms, and politics that frame the operations of security agencies. Successful SSR implementation will therefore partly depend on whether the state actually punishes human rights violations and corrupt acts committed by security personnel. So far, however, the rather slow pace of reforms in Kenya’s criminal justice system continues to shield abusive security personnel. In light of this background, ICTJ brought together eight experts with backgrounds in civil society, academia, and the security sector to share perspectives at a two-day meeting which sought to build new understanding on SSR.
The first presentation contextualized the idea of SSR within the broader issue of transitional justice. The second presentation examined international best practice for SSR as it relates to Kenya. The third presentation focused on the state and performance of Kenya’s security agencies, drawing its analysis from three official reports: the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, the Report of the National Task Force on Police Reforms, and the Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. The fourth presentation examined how the practice of vetting might be used to transform Kenya’s security agencies, while the fifth and sixth ones discussed the possibilities for a police oversight body and penal reform, respectively. The seventh presentation explored SSR as it relates to the problem of the proliferation of vigilantes, gangs, and militia in Kenya. Finally, the eighth presentation argued for the need to regulate the Kenyan private security sector.
This briefing paper is a synthesis and analysis of the eight presentations and the ensuing debate which took place among the broader group of 25 participants. It explores several questions among them: What is the state of security and the security sector in Kenya? What have been the outcomes of SSR measures undertaken so far? What approaches for security sector transformation are desirable for Kenya and how might they be pursued? What kind of linkages are policy-makers making between SSR and other issues in the governance realm?
Follow this link to view the publication on the ICTJ's website.
Transitional justice is often pursued in contexts where people have been forced from their homes and communities by human rights violations and have suffered additional abuses while displaced. Yet little attention has been paid to how transitional justice measures can be used to address the wide range of injustices associated with displacement and thereby serve as part of a comprehensive approach to the resolution of displacement. This report provides an overview of the relationship between transitional justice and displacement and offers specific guidance to policymakers and practitioners in the numerous fields that share a concern with displacement, including transitional justice, humanitarianism, peacebuilding, and development. Displaced persons often have a critical stake in transitional justice processes, which have the potential to contribute positively to efforts to uphold their rights and well-being. When displacement is linked to large-scale human rights violations, the concerns of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) should be incorporated in appropriate ways into transitional justice efforts. At the same time, responses to the problem of displacement should integrate transitional justice measures.
This briefing paper details and analyzes the progress made so far in Tunisia to implement its historic Transitional Justice Law, with a particular focus on the Truth and Dignity Commission, created one year ago. The paper chronicles the pitfalls that measures have needed to overcome in a changing environment, where waning political support is threatening the country's transitional justice agenda.
The report, titled, “From Principles to Practice: Challenges of Implementing Reparations for Massive Violations in Colombia,” examines the challenges of implementing Colombia's Victims and Land Restitution Law (2011), which created a large-scale reparations program for victims of serious human rights violations and a separate land restitution program for those displaced from land they relied on for their livelihoods.
This paper explores the intersection between displacement and one particular mechanism of transitional justice—justice-sensitive security sector reform (JSSR). It aims to identify various ways in which JSSR can contribute to the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and how applying the principles of JSSR can improve the prospects of developing durable solutions to displacement—that is, of meeting the long-term safety, security, and justice needs of the displaced.
The paper can be found at the following link: Ensuring Long-Term Protection: Justice-Sensitive Security Sector Reform and Displacement
This paper weighs the possible modes and competing policy objectives of punishing FARC members for serious crimes in the context of Colombia’s ongoing peace negotiations. It argues that punishment has to occur in a way that does not damage one of the underlying objectives of the peace process, transforming the FARC from an insurgent group into a political actor. According to the paper, to meet policy objectives: 1) trials must be public, accessible, transparent, and serious; 2) punishment should include the possibility of offenders meeting with victims so that they can express their suffering; and 3) measures of punishment should include disagreeable consequences, such as financial penalties, asset seizure, temporary exclusion from political office, and community service orders, as well as reformative measures.
This paper is part of a multiyear research project conducted by the International Center for Transitional Justice on the challenges and opportunities of responding to serious and massive human rights violations in different contexts. James Cohen is an anti-corruption and security sector reform expert with a decade of experience including at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme, and the United States Institute of Peace. He is currently Interim-Executive Director of Transparency International Canada.
For full access to Addressing Corruption Through Justice-Sensitive Security Sector Reform, please follow the link.
Forms of Justice: A Guide to Designing Reparations Application Forms and Registration Processes for Victims of Human Rights Violations
In a number of countries around the world, governments have created state-administered reparations programs for victims and communities that were most affected by massive human rights violations. The success of these programs, which often involve thousands of individuals, depends in part on the state’s ability to reach victims and record their demands for justice in an effective and meaningful way. Reparations programs may be administered by government agencies pursuant to a law or policy or a court judgment. In all cases, a process of identifying, verifying, and registering those entitled to reparations is necessary. This often begins with a reparations application form.
For full access to Forms of Justice: A Guide to Designing Reparations Application Forms and Registration Processes for Victims of Human Rights Violations, please follow the link.
Studies on Transitional Justice in Context: Addressing Corruption Through Justice-Sensitive Security Sector Reform
Corruption is often uncritically assumed to be part of the way things work in transitional and post-conflict countries. Corruption is even argued to be beneficial to development, in that it “greases the wheels of bureaucracy” and gets things done. Under pressure to establish short-term stability in post-conflict settings, peace-builders and negotiators will sometimes make deals with the power brokers who started the conflict, shopping out political positions and control over state assets while turning a blind eye to questionable control of public funds. Security sector reform (SSR) and transitional justice are two processes that can be used for peacebuilding efforts in these contexts.
For full access to Studies on Transitional Justice in Context: Addressing Corruption Through Justice-Sensitive Security Sector Reform, please follow the link.
This brief from ICTJ looks at the colossal task that The Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition will face when they begin taking statements in November 2018. The Commission will have to construct the historical truth from the stories and accounts of millions of victims, including those of the 100,000s of victims living abroad. The ICTJ highlights the challenges that the Commission will face and suggests methods for working with victims to discover the truth.
For full access to the article, Colombia’s Truth Commission Prepares to Embark on the Extraterritorial Truth-Telling Process, please follow the link.
This report of the Working Group on Transitional Justice and SDG16+ articulates the contributions of transitional justice to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 16 on peace, justice, and inclusion, but also related goals on gender and inequality. The report contends that in contexts of serious and massive human rights violations, transitional justice provides a framework for addressing the needs of victims, helping to reduce the “justice gap,” and building sustainable peace and development.
To read the full report, On Solid Ground: Building Sustainable Peace and Development After Massive Human Rights Violations, kindly follow the link provided.
Tunisia continues to take steps to fulfill its commitments under its ground-breaking Transitional Justice Law and realize the goals of the 2011 revolution. But a rocky start to the country’s new truth commission and proposed reconciliation-cum-amnesty legislation could undermine these efforts, according to a new paper by the International Center for Transitional Justice. If not corrected soon, Tunisia is at risk of missing a historic opportunity to uncover the truth about human rights abuses committed during the Ben Ali regime and dictatorship period.
Full article available here
After toppling Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in February 2011, Egyptians were eager for a reckoning with past injustices. The slogan of the revolution that brought millions into the streets and Tahrir square was reflective of this sentiment: “Bread. Freedom. Social justice.” The energy from the streets was channeled into discussions on the country’s future. At a regional conference on transitional justice organized by ICTJ in Cairo in October of that year, the discussion was auspicious and animate. Accountability and institutional reforms were at the top on the political debate. Today, the hopes and optimism of those days seem like a distant dream. After four years of political turmoil, the possibility of a genuine transitional justice process in Egypt is uncertain.
Full article available here
Following Colombia’s Agreement on Criminal Accountability, ICTJ Pledges Continued Support for the Hard Work Ahead
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) welcomes the recent agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to create a special criminal jurisdiction as part of an integrated system of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. The agreement represents a crucial step in the process to end the 50-year-long armed conflict in Colombia, which has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced millions.
The special judicial system described in the agreement, the details of which are not yet public, aims to address judicial accountability for serious crimes committed during the conflict, with a special emphasis on acknowledgement of wrongdoing and uncovering the truth.
Full article available here
Facing corruption charges, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina recently resigned from office and less than 24 hours later was indicted for corruption, illicit association, and bribery. The euphoria caused by this victory of the justice system has spilled over to other Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador, where citizens are taking to the streets to demand justice and an end to corruption.
Full article available here
This article examines the various points at which accountability for economic crimes, including large-scale corruption, intersects with accountability for human rights violations. Because corruption and human rights violations are mutually reinforcing forms of abuse, the field of transitional justice should approach economic crimes in the same way it approaches civil and political rights violations.
Full article available here
This report aims to help practitioners in the transitional justice field to understand the experience of establishing and operating hybrid courts and to address some common assumptions about these entities. To do so, it looks at hybrid or mixed courts in practice, drawing on experiences in five different contexts: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, and Timor-Leste.
To read the full report, Committing to Justice for Serious Human Rights Violations, kindly follow the link provided.