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Arcs of Global JusticeEssays in Honour of William A. Schabas$
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Margaret M. deGuzman and Diane Marie Amann

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190272654

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190272654.001.0001

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Toward Greater Synergy between Courts and Truth Commissions in Post-conflict Contexts

Toward Greater Synergy between Courts and Truth Commissions in Post-conflict Contexts

Lessons from Sierra Leone

Chapter:
(p.417) 21 Toward Greater Synergy between Courts and Truth Commissions in Post-conflict Contexts
Source:
Arcs of Global Justice
Author(s):

Charles Chernor Jalloh

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190272654.003.0022

After a brutal civil war (1991–2002), Sierra Leone became the first country to experiment with simultaneously having a truth commission and a special criminal tribunal. The former, to which Bill Schabas was appointed international commissioner, sought to create an impartial historical record of the human rights violations perpetrated during the conflict and to promote healing and reconciliation. The latter aimed to address impunity, through prosecution of those most responsible for grave international crimes committed during the latter part of the war. This chapter examines the challenge that the two separate institutions, each with its unique mandate and working method, faced in their interactions with each other. It argues that the truth commission and special court’s attempt to forge a complementary relationship was largely unsuccessful because of structural and other factors. The author identifies key lessons of the Sierra Leone experiment for future transitions in Africa and around the world.

Keywords:   amnesties, truth commissions, special courts, criminal trials, truth telling

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