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Transitional justice and mental health
“We want to know the truth. Who ordered the killings of my family and the people in my village?” Legitimate questions from Marino Cordoba, a Human rights defender and a social leader from Riosucio in Colombia. These were some of the expectations that the truth commission was met with, when set to work in Colombia in December 2018.
The question is of course – will the people of Colombia be provided with the full truth through the work of the truth commission? Few of us are in doubt as to the importance of transitional processes in situations following a conflict, when peace agreements are signed, and the reconstruction of society is needed. As part of such processes, truth commissions, investigations and legal procedures, as well as different forms of reparations, are vital. In this context, forgiveness, in addition to reconciliation, is often described as important parts of this.
But what does it take for those who have lost and suffered, to forgive, or to reconcile with persons formerly seen as enemies or even oppressors? What role does the truth commission play in this? It is evident that people have the right to know, but it is not always so clear that truth alone provides the sense of restoration that the victims and survivors are looking for and that the peace process requires when a conflict is over.
As a means of supporting victims and as a way for them to move forward, the role of the truth commissions and their effects have been much debated. Pathak also underlines that the budget often allocated to the commissions and the amount defined for reparations to the victims, are usually very inadequate, and the lack of official policies and inadequate legislation and regulations to govern these processes, are factors that can jeopardies these important and needed processes.
Hayes in Hamber (2007) claims that “Revealing is not simply healing; the process of healing depends on how we reveal, the context of the revealing, and what it is that we are revealing”. The truth may be a collection of past events, consisting of different interpretations and recollection of what happened. It is vital that victims, the survivors and those participating in the transitional processes consider these as fair and just, and that those involved are met with respect and in a dignified manner in order for them not to be revictimized in the process. These are some of the important issues that must be taken into consideration when working with victims engaging in truth commissions.
Please have a look at the links below and at our thematic page on transitional justice for more information related to the topic.
Further reading on transitional justice
A Comparative Study of World’s Truth Commissions: From Madness to Hope
Truth Commissions have been established, are being established and will be established based primarily on three notions: Let’s forget the victims to forgive the perpetrators; let’s not forget the victims and forgive the perpetrators; and let’s not forget the victims and not forgive the perpetrators, too. These notions apply to both restorative and retributive justices.
El Espectador 2018
“We hope we can contribute to Colombia seeking the truth in a sincere, transparent way, which is a public good and is the responsibility of all of us in Colombia. We hope to contribute in depth with our communication and pedagogy and with the Casas de la Verdad that we are starting to open in different regions in the form of a mobile team with the communities,” he said in an interview with the Justice for Peace chapter of Colombia 2020.
From a psychological (psychoanalytic) perspective, sleeping dogs do not lie and past traumas do not simply pass or disappear with the passage of time; but testimony and telling (and hearing) the truth will not instantaneously result in healing (Hamber, 1995;1998a). Revealing is not simply healing; the process of healing depends on how we reveal, the context of the revealing, and what it is that we are revealing (Hayes, 1998). In the final report of the TRC, the Commission acknowledges the healing potential of storytelling, whilst noting that it initiated more than it closed when it came to individual healing (TRC, 1998).
For sale Ruthledge
This book addresses current developments in transitional justice in Latin America – effectively the first region to undergo concentrated transitional justice experiences in modern times. Using a comparative approach, it examines trajectories in truth, justice, reparations, and amnesties in countries emerging from periods of massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The book examines the cases of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, developing and applying a common analytical framework to provide a systematic, qualitative and comparative analysis of their transitional justice experiences. More specifically, the book investigates to what extent there has been a shift from impunity towards accountability for past human rights violations in Latin America.
Download the HHRI GBV manual
Download the manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict for free. The manual is also available inArabic, Russian and Spanish. This training material has been written for those who provide assistance and support to women who survive gender-based violence and sexual trauma during disasters, wars and conflicts. Furthermore, we hope it may be helpful as well to those who work with gender-based violence survivors in other settings. Please share the manual and spread it among your colleagues, organizations or in your community.