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Old 03-31-2012, 21:05
MrCorbett MrCorbett is offline
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Transitional Justice - Does it work everywhere? (Due April 3)

As you learned in class, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a remarkable attempt to help South Africa transition from the Apartheid regime to a democratic system. It offered amnesty to perpetrators of violence who came forward with the truth of the crimes they committed. This particular format was tailored to the South African experience, and was informed by other experiences of transitional justice, including the Nuremberg trials. One of the most striking and compelling stories is that of Amy Biehl, an American anti-Apartheid activist who was murdered in South Africa, and her parents, who supported the TRC’s decision to pardon her murderers.

However, the TRC was not perfect, and transitional justice is neither easy nor formulaic. For your post assignment, please read Max Frankel’s “The War and the Law” (see below). In a thoughtful response, please consider the following questions: Is transitional justice necessary after human rights violations? What are some issues with transitional justice? When is transitional justice the right course of action? When it might not work? When is it irrelevant? What do people who have been the victims of human rights violations need to reconcile? Is true reconciliation after such events ever possible? If you were the victim (directly or indirectly) of human rights abuses, what would you want to happen to the perpetrators?

READING: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/07/ma...ted=all&src=pm
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Old 04-02-2012, 17:57
kamilia19 kamilia19 is offline
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Transitional Justice

After reading Max Frankel’s “The War and the Law” , I believe that transitional justice is necessary after human rights violations. It is necessary for there to be transitional justice after human rights violations because its the only way to stop other things from happening. It will raise awareness to those that are affected by it and those who are not. It will also bring peace towards those who are affected and can live a more normal life than if there wasn't any transitional justice. Some issues with transitional justice is that it might not work, and people may not be for it and remain against it and not care for it. It wont work if people are not contributing to it and aren't agreeing with the views that are being said that pertains to the transitional justice. People who are victims should be able to understand the after math and that not everyone is going to support wanting justice and such. There are no guarantees that transitional justice will happen. But if I was a victim of the human rights abuses, I would definitely want the perpetrators to be punished. Depending on what they did to me would depend on how badly punished I want the perpetrators to be.
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Old 04-02-2012, 18:08
computerkid93 computerkid93 is offline
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Transitional Justice

I believe that transitional justice should occur after human rights violations, however only in certain cases. In terms of the apartheid in South Africa, I think that was an extremely lucky situation in which the people who committed crimes were willing, and understood that what they did was a crime. With many cases of human rights violations, those who committed crimes never thought that what they did was truly wrong. I think that if Hitler had survived, and he was offered a pardon, it would fail because he thought what he was doing was the right thing. Even with the Nuremberg trials, the Nazis who were tried didn't they what they had done was wrong. For transitional justice to work, both sides need to be in compliance, or else it's completely irrelevant.

Transitional justice seems to be the right course a good number of years after the violations. It takes time for people to return to their normal way of life and to detach themselves a little bit from what happened. I'm not saying those affected will ever be able to get past what was done to them, but with time comes a clearer mind, which is the better way to approach the situation. I don't think anything can be done to help victims feel justified. If a mother or brother or a friend were killed, not even death to the killer would justify what had been done. Your mother would still be dead, and another family would be devastated. I do not believe true reconciliation could ever be achieved.

If I were the victim of a human rights violation, I would immediately want revenge. I would want the person to suffer the way I suffered and more. However, I think that after a few years, I would want to know why the person did what they did, and make them see how much suffering they caused. E.B. White said "Nobody, not even victors, should forget that when a man hangs from a tree it doesn't spell justice unless he helped write the law that hanged him." An eye for an eye really doesn't equal justice. I think that living with the fact that you caused so much suffering and terror would be a far worse punishment than death.
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Old 04-02-2012, 22:28
burstingapart1 burstingapart1 is offline
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Forgive and Forget

The old saying to “forgive and forget” has two parts: you can’t just “forget” and be done with it and move on because even know it’s a quick and easy way to try to distance and yourself from an issue, it will eventually resurface because you need to have the “forgive” aspect. I think that transitional justice is generally a good thing, and could work. But I do think that there needs to be a time of initial healing first. I don’t think that having a transitional justice trial immediately following a human rights violation would be very effective because the victims need some time to cool down a bit and the perpetrators need time to think about and see the impact they’ve made on society.

Transitional justice would work in a setting where there has been some time to reconcile with the new realty of the situation. I completely agree with computerkid93
“Transitional justice seems to be the right course a good number of years after the violations. It takes time for people to return to their normal way of life and to detach themselves a little bit from what happened. I'm not saying those affected will ever be able to get past what was done to them, but with time comes a clearer mind, which is the better way to approach the situation. I don't think anything can be done to help victims feel justified.”
I would not always say that it is absolutely necessary because we have survived without it in the past, but it is a way to relieve raw tension by talking it out. I don’t think it solves all the problems, but it is better than violence. I think that people who have been victims of human rights violations need to see the perpetrators understand the full affect of their crime and one way would be a transitional justice tribunal.

As far was true reconciliation, I really don’t think that in the same generation, people can fully forgive each other for committing such horrible crimes to humanity. So by saying time heals all is very true because eventually that story will become an old tale that your great great great grandpa used to tell, and yes it’s part of your identity but really it’s not as if you hate the perpetrator. So only time can heal things, and never truly fully.

If I were a victim of a human rights violation I would want that person in jail because I wouldn’t want them to violate someone else’s rights. And that is why I don’t agree with giving someone amnesty in a transitional justice trial, because I think that they should get some sort of punishment or they would set a bad example to other creeps that you can get away with it.
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Old 04-02-2012, 22:33
jetodashurqesh jetodashurqesh is offline
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What would you do?

As we have seen many times in history, after human rights violations have occurred the hardest part is then transitioning into normalcy. How do people move on from everything that has been done? Does one forgive and forget? Since we have been looking into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and this idea of transitional justice I have been thinking of what i would do if I was ever put in that position. One of the hardest things is looking the enemy in the eye and not trying to avenge the murder of your loved one. Nothing can bring that person back, not an apology, not money, not sympathy. And as much as recognition of the event helps, you need closure for that part of your life. This is why we must forgive. We must realize that the damage is done that nothing the person can say or do will ever bring things back to normal.

This is why transitional justice has proven risky. In places like South Africa where so much damage is done to so many people maybe transitional justice is the best solution to bring an end to the situation. But there are many flaws with transitional justice. If people can get away with a crime with a simple apology, the crime is seen as acceptable to society, and someone else can come along and commit the same crime. I feel like there will never be reconciliation because one can never forget what has hurt them the most. The most important thing when human rights have been violated is taking the mature approach to the situation and raising awareness to all that has occurred.

I do think that computerkid93 brings up a good point though that the perpetrators have to be willing to accept that what they have done is a crime and have to be willing to be punished for it. “The War and The Law” is a strong article supporting transitional justice but i feel that transitional justice is not a solution to every problem.
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Old 04-02-2012, 23:28
pineapple46 pineapple46 is offline
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Does transitional justice always work?

I definitely think transitional justice is necessary after human rights violations. Not only does the society need to go back to how it was before, but the perpetrators should own up to and pay for what they did. The rest of the world also needs to be made aware of what happened so that it can be stopped in the future. However, I do agree that there are limitations on transitional justice. As computerkid93 said, “For transitional justice to work, both sides need to be in compliance, or else it's completely irrelevant.” I completely agree with this. If a war criminal is being tried, for example, they are not necessarily going to know that they have done wrong. Chances are they are still going to think that they are in the right. When they are oppressed it is probably just going to make them want to do even more evil things. It is only if they are willing to realize that they have done something wrong that transitional justice is effective.

In some cases, though, transitional justice is not extreme enough for the punishment required – as Max Frankel states in his article, there was “massive evidence of Nazi barbarities and aggressions” at the Nuremburg trials. To me, putting the Nazis on trial just seems pointless. They committed such atrocious crimes that they don’t even seem worthy of a trial, especially given all the evidence. Then again, I look at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and see that transitional justice can be effective. Like computerkid93 said, having to live with the guilt of knowing you committed such terrible crimes could potentially be worse than dying.

In terms of reconciliation, I agree with jetodashurqesh that “there will never be reconciliation because one can never forget what has hurt them the most” because “nothing can bring that person back, not an apology, not money, not sympathy.” No matter what is done to the perpetrator, nothing can undo a death or a human rights violation that has been committed. It will always be in the surviving victim’s memory. Trying to put myself in the position of the victim of human rights abuses is difficult, but I think if I were a victim I would want the perpetrators to understand the pain and suffering I had gone through. I probably would not want to let them off unharmed.
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Old 04-02-2012, 23:56
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FullHouse997 FullHouse997 is offline
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Transitional Justice

I believe transitional justice is necessary in most situations, I don't know every case so I can't say it is always needed. Nevertheless I think there will always be pros and cons, I felt like during the Nuremberg trials in Germany for Frankel the trials were bitter sweet. There is never a way of knowing exactly what type of transitional justice will work, and its impossible to please everyone. That is the issue with transitional justice, not everyone is going to agree on one policy for sue a major event. There are those who are willing to forgive, or forget, or forgive and never forget, or not forgive.. you get the point.

I think transitional justice is necessary mainly when there are extreme tensions between opposite parties or if their were serious crimes against humanity like in the case of the Nazis where of course government action should be taken. I don't think it will work if one side benefits more.

I think in order for it to work each side should have to give and take. Like after apartheid the families of victims were able to learn the truth and have the death of their loved one recognized, but they also had to let their killers stay free. For the criminals it meant having to admit and recognize what they did, but in return they wouldn't suffer any other consequences. I would say it is irrelevant if the majority of the population doesn't want it or maybe if there aren't clear sides because it could just make things more complicated. I think true reconciliation after these events is possible if both sides are willing and sincere. In the case that I was a victim it would depend on the situation.

I mostly agree with kamilia19 , " I would definitely want the perpetrators to be punished. Depending on what they did to me would depend on how badly punished I want the perpetrators to be." If I was attacked or my property destroyed I would be able to forgive and move on, but if I lost a family member in an inhumane way, something personal like a murder rather than in something like the Sharpsville massacre I would want the perpetrator to pay. I would want them to rot in jail and give me everything they have, even though this wouldn't change anything I don't think I could live the rest of my life know what that person did and that they haven't had any consequences for their actions.
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Old 04-03-2012, 00:01
mattshadows mattshadows is offline
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Transitional justice

Having read Max Frankel's article on the ineffectiveness of the Nuremberg trials, I would hold an opposing view: I think that the Nuremberg trials were both just, and symbolically important. While he does offer some good points (the Nuremberg trials have, it appears, been widely useless as far as deterring atrocities), he fails to convince me that there is anything inherently wrong with staging trials for human rights abuses and war crimes. He does expose some strong flaws though, the most convincing of which for me was his point that the only people who have to pay for their crimes are the losers.

I believe that transitional justice, when implemented correctly, has the potential to be extremely beneficial. It can be a force to punish those who committed terrible crimes, and it can be a medium of beginning to heal the rifts between various populations within a country, as was intended with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in post-Apartheid South Africa. However, if poorly implemented, it seems to me that transitional justice could reopen old wounds in a community. I also like computerkid93's point: With many cases of human rights violations, those who committed crimes never thought that what they did was truly wrong." I think that is an important point, especially in regards to Truth and Reconciliation, because in order for those to work, the offending party must be able to acknowledge that they have done something wrong.

I think that transitional justice seems to be most effective relatively soon after the human rights transgressions come to a close. It is transitional justice after all, and so it is meant to help a society transition into a new unity.

I think that true reconciliation is possible after events like this, maybe not soon, maybe not even in a lifetime, but eventually. However, it is definitely a difficult goal to achieve. I know that if I had suffered human rights violations, I would probably be seeking justice in the form of retribution.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:06
PlasticWrapped PlasticWrapped is offline
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Black Marked

Quote:
Originally Posted by computerkid93 View Post
Transitional justice seems to be the right course a good number of years after the violations. It takes time for people to return to their normal way of life and to detach themselves a little bit from what happened. I'm not saying those affected will ever be able to get past what was done to them, but with time comes a clearer mind, which is the better way to approach the situation. I don't think anything can be done to help victims feel justified. If a mother or brother or a friend were killed, not even death to the killer would justify what had been done. Your mother would still be dead, and another family would be devastated. I do not believe true reconciliation could ever be achieved.
I agree with computerkid93, I don't believe that retributive justice would ever be able to make up what the perpetrators have done. Just as how Frankel put it in the article, the way the world went with the Nuremberg trials, it just didn't make any sense. They were demanding the heads of the people who committed the crime, in order to pay retribution to the ones who were affected. It feels like such a paradox. In Frankel's words, "The civilized world cannot prosecute the most heinous crimes without first defeating the perpetrators. It can't defeat them without an army. It can't raise an army without levying taxes. What is this world?

I grew fonder for transitional justice. What good is it to see someone die to make up the death of your loved one... It wouldn't bring them back. A continuous circle of death fixes nothing. I felt that transitional justice. The fact that the perpetrator actually knew what they were doing was wrong was a more meaningful act.

"Nobody, not even victors, should forget that when a man hangs from a tree it doesn't spell justice unless he helped write the law that hanged him."

Depending on the situation. I feel that most transitional justice is necessary after human rights violations because I feel as though you need to have face to face talks. To have the doer know what they did was wrong. But the problem is... people can admit what they did was wrong without meaning it. That's a large problem. How can you make someone actually feel guilty for what they did. To acknowledge everything?

It might be irrelevant when something truly heinous happens and the person just won't give in. You won't ever be able to change their minds. If I were a victim of human rights abuses... to be honest, I would want their heads. But after some time, I probably will get over it and wish I hadn't killed them. I would want them to suffer the consequences and forever be black marked and feel guilty for their actions.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:55
Simba Simba is offline
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Although I doubt its effectiveness, I think that some sort of transitional justice system would help to bring closure to victims of the human rights violations and their family members. If a nation wants to move forward and put its past behind itself, it must first address the human rights violations before any further action. If a nation ignores the problem or pretends it never happened (just as Turkey denies the Armenian genocide ever happened to this day), it would never be able to move on from its past, and will be forever haunted by it.

Transitional justice is necessary when there is extreme tension between certain parties within a nation, that must be relieved before looking ahead into a nation's future. For example, the Nuremberg trials that condemned the leaders from the Holocaust were necessary to help address and potentially relieve the tension between Jews and the German people. However, transitional justice might not work if a system established to address the human rights violations, fails to effectively bring closure to the victims. For example, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completely fails to serve justice to the perpetrators. By offering immunity to these killers, the TRC (unintentionally) sends a negative message to the community: that even if one kills another person, s/he will still be protected as long as s/he confesses. This indirectly encourages people to continue killing others. Without a just punishment, victims and their family members will never receive the closure they need to move on, and will ultimately hold back the nation as a whole.

Quote:
Originally Posted by computerkid93 View Post
Transitional justice seems to be the right course a good number of years after the violations. It takes time for people to return to their normal way of life and to detach themselves a little bit from what happened.
I agree with computerkid93 that a certain amount of time needs to pass before initiating a transitional justice system. People need time to digest the human rights violations and to completely understand what happened and why. They need time to cool off and think rationally, instead of letting their actions be controlled by rash emotions. Time is necessary. Only then is transitional justice "the right course" to take.

Although achieving reconciliation may seem like a daunting, almost impossible task to do after witnessing and suffering from crimes against humanity, I believe that reconciliation is possible if a system is implemented which effectively and appropriately serves consequences to those who committed human rights violations. If I were a victim of human rights abuses, it's difficult to say what I would like to see happen. Of course, I would like to think that I would be able to eventually forgive the perpetrators for their crimes and move on in my life, but I don't know how it feels to be put in that position. After visiting the Holocaust Museum and listening to the discussions in class, I am surprised that some victims are able to forgive. I suppose I would want the perpetrators to be sentenced to a life of community service (in prison). I don't think a death sentence would be an effective solution: two rights don't make a wrong. To make up for all the human rights violations they committed, they would be forced to dedicate their lives to serving and helping others.
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Last edited by Simba; 04-03-2012 at 02:03.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:59
Simba Simba is offline
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As far was true reconciliation, I really don’t think that in the same generation, people can fully forgive each other for committing such horrible crimes to humanity. So by saying time heals all is very true because eventually that story will become an old tale that your great great great grandpa used to tell, and yes it’s part of your identity but really it’s not as if you hate the perpetrator. So only time can heal things, and never truly fully.
True! Good point. You're absolutely right: TRUE reconciliation probably can't be reached in the same generation. Henry (the Holocaust survivor from the DC trip) said he has no reason to hate the current generation of German people, but he will never forgive their ancestors who were involved as perpetrators in the Holocaust for their crimes against humanity.
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:53
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potatosalad potatosalad is offline
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I agree with many of these points, but I still have conflicting views. On one hand, kamilia19 mentioned that victims would want the perpetrators to be punished, rather than let free because they told their story. I feel the same way, though I might never really know how a victim really feels. Also, victims differ. One may want their perpetrators sentenced to death, the other one may want him or her to suffer with the guilt for the rest of their lives, and still others just want the truth and to move on. I didn’t like the idea that some people weren’t punished for what they did, so I googled “transitional justice” for a better understanding.

According to Wikipedia (a very trusty source), transitional justice is composed of prosecutions and truth commissions. I’m not sure whether they could coexist, because it seemed hypocritical to me – to let some people walk free but also to prosecute others? How would they choose who to let free and who to prosecute? But I do think that both can be compromised like Simba and computerkid93 mentioned. I think that the criminals could be sentenced to jail (to show that crime will not be tolerated, like Simba mentioned), but after a while be offered a chance to come out early if they are willing to do participate in the truth-seeking and truth commission parts of transitional justice and admit that they have done wrong. This way, we can avoid a scenario that pineapple46 suggested in which the criminals remain stubborn – they would just remain in jail. As for trying to decide if it’s genuine – that could be a challenge though. I do think that besides institutional punishments, personal face-to-face reconciliation is very important. Criminals should be able to face their crimes and the people that they have affected.

If I were the victim, I would want the criminal to be punished by law, but to also participate in transitional justice if they show signs of defeat and guilt. I’m surprised to hear that Max Frankel, author of that article, didn’t seem to like institutional punishments that much at all. I personally would want them to suffer for it physically somehow, but I guess I would never know how Frankel felt, so maybe that’s why.
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:59
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Molihua Molihua is offline
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Transitional Justice - When it is needed?

When human rights are violated and our loved ones fall victim to it, our first reaction is to find some way to avenge that death and put the perpetrator to death. One might be scarred for life after witnessing a human rights violation. These are not just things you can run away from it in the short term and simply “forget about it” as it never happened, however, crying about it and getting crazy with the perpetrator doesn’t really help the situation. I believe that transitional justice is the ideal way to go for such acts because it gives people the ability to SMOOTHLY transition into the community. It gives the perpetrators to explain themselves and for the community to truly bond together as one. This bridges the gap between the perpetrator and the victims and allows for a more smooth transition, however, as other have pointed out, there are flaws with the transitional justice system.

Computerkis93 wrote:

Quote:
With many cases of human rights violations, those who committed crimes never thought that what they did was truly wrong.
I agree with that. I think the only way for transitional justice to be effective is IF both parties agree to form a relationship with each other. That means that the perpetrator has to bear some responsibility for his actions while the victim has to forgive the perpetrator a little. If either party declines, then transitional justice would not be possible. A time where I believe that transitional justice is not possible is directly after a traumatic event. For example, it would be ideal for there to be some form of transitional justice right after the Holocaust, but let’s be real. Hitler has murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews and separated families and friends. Would one ever expect the Jews to suddenly pardon Hitler for all the horrible deeds he has done? The only time I believe this would be possible is in a circumstance where people are not physically harmed and when both parties are willing to work with each other.

Although I think transitional justice has been quite effective at transitioning people back into society, it doesn’t always work and at times, I feel that true reconciliation is never quite reaches. Even though a reconciliation commission tries its best to bridge the gap between victim and perpetrator, when one is taken advantage of by another, they may forgive the perpetrator on the surface, but deep down inside, they still hate him. For example, let’s assume that Hitler and the Jews reached reconciliation one day. While they may forgive him at that time, they will never become true “friends” because of what he did before. They just forgive each other and move on in their own paths. If I was the victim of human rights abuse, I would want the perpetrator to know what he is doing is wrong. Perhaps sometimes, people might be a perpetrator and not know it or how he is affecting others. I see the goal of a reconciliation commission to not only transition people into society, but to also teach the perpetrators what wrong they did to the world.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:16
noquarter noquarter is offline
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Not for governments to decide

I think some sort of transitional justice is necessary after human rights violations. After all, it is not as thought nothing can be done, and the issues left un-addressed. That would simply not solve anything. Transitional justice is
indeed a necessary thing to confront the issues and events of human rights violations. However, some issues with it are, as described by the article, that it is not a preventative measure as shown by history. Nations can always commit genocides and atrocities, and if they are the winners of the war they can get away with it. Also, other nations controlling transitional justice is also a shaky system, as other nations aren't perfect themselves. So who gets to decide what happens?

Transitional justice is probably always the right course of action after human rights violations. There needs to be some way to confront the issues at hand. However, they are not always the most efficient methods when international judiciary powers are in control of these procedures. I think that the people who should decide what happens to the perpetrators and how the country transitions into stability are the people who were affected. That is only fair, their rights as humans were violated and so their needs must be addressed first. After all how are a bunch of international powers to decide? They were not directly affected. If I were a victims of a human rights violation, it would of course depend on the circumstances to decide what I would want to happen. But I think a widespread survey should be given asking these questions. Whatever the most popular decision is, is what happens. That is true democracy.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:32
RedCliff RedCliff is offline
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Why Use Transitional Justice?

Many crimes are committed everyday. Sometimes, the perpetrator is never found? Should that person receive amnesty if he confesses to his crime? I would say no, because that wouldn't help anyone. The person would just commit more crimes with the belief that he could continue confessing away his punishment. In such a situation, transitional justice is not appropriate. However, that does not mean that it is never appropriate.

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Hitler has murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews and separated families and friends. Would one ever expect the Jews to suddenly pardon Hitler for all the horrible deeds he has done?
I disagree with Mohilua here because I don't see transitional justice in the same way. In the example of the Holocaust, the idea is not to help Jews forgive Hitler, but to forgive Germany. I believe that transitional justice is appropriate when crimes are committed on a larger scale than by just one person, such as when they are committed by a government. In such a case, the issue more pressing than punishing the criminals is helping the nation as a whole to mend. That is why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission exists; it is necessary to help countries move past its problems on a large scale, not on a crime-to-crime basis. That is why I believe that transitional justice is necessary immediately after human rights violations have occurred on a large scale, but not when it is committed by a single person, nor after a country or other large group has already learned to move on.

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However, some issues with it are, as described by the article, that it is not a preventative measure as shown by history.
I disagree with noquarter because I think that this is true for any form of justice. A punishment is by definition after the crime; it cannot stop a crime from happening. However, I believe that it does have the power to prevent future injustices, because it can help a group learn to move past the mindset in which injustices occur. Even if this is not always the case, this is no different than reformative justice: while it may help some people, it is never a guarantee.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:06
chandlerbing chandlerbing is offline
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Transitional Justice

Quote:
It is necessary for there to be transitional justice after human rights violations because its the only way to stop other things from happening. It will raise awareness to those that are affected by it and those who are not.
I agree with this quote and the fact that transitional justice is necessary after human rights violations. If there is a community without transitional justice, there will be no reassurance that these things won’t happen again. Of course there is always the possibility that it will anyway, but I believe the chances of that happening with transitional justice are less than if there were none at all. I also agree with KAMILIA19 when they said that it will raise awareness to those that are affected. I believe transitional justice will bring this because we have seen tragedies happen to people in our society where no one has really paid attention to that subject before. However, after one of our own has been affected, we realize what a problem these things really are. We try to educate and bring awareness to other people to make sure that it will not happen to someone they care about, learning from their own experiences.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:28
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uniquevoice16 uniquevoice16 is offline
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Transitional Justice

I think that Transitional Justice is a big step from the Nuremberg trials, but it is not the best and ultimate way to deal with the actions of oppressors and human rights abusers. As stated by Computerkid93,
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Originally Posted by computerkid93 View Post
I think that was an extremely lucky situation in which the people who committed crimes were willing, and understood that what they did was a crime. With many cases of human rights violations, those who committed crimes never thought that what they did was truly wrong.
And I completely agree with him, Transitional Justice may have worked in South Africa, but it may not always work. In most cases, the oppressors will not comply with apologizing to the victims and admitting that they are wrong. The reason for this being is that they truly believe that they are right in their way of thinking. Also, they may not be sincere in their apology, they may simply apologize just for the sake of apologizing and not to seek forgiveness and admitting ones faults. And if I was a victim, I don’t think I would ever accept the apology of the people that oppressed me and killed many members of my family. If anything, it would probably fuel me with anger just to be reminded of the atrocity through the lips of the perpetrator.

I think that transitional justice can only work when the atrocity committed by the perpetrator is on a much smaller scale to that of the Holocaust for example. I don’t think that Transitional Justice would have worked after the Holocaust at all. Blood for blood is not exactly a good solution either, but it’s very hard to decide what to do with people such as this. From reading the article, I think that a world council should be put in place. They would deal with the prosecution of human rights violators and war criminals.
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  #18  
Old 04-03-2012, 16:54
curiousgeorgex3 curiousgeorgex3 is offline
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Can time heal all?

After reading the article “The War and The Law” and learning about cases of transitional justice from both the classroom and independent research I believe that transitional justice is necessary. I say this only because of the victims. I believe that if some one’s human rights are violated than they deserve their revenge. If those who committed the crimes were not punished than the victims would most certainly feel slighted and forgotten, it is important to let these people know that what happened to them will never be forgotten. I think that the Nuremberg trials were the purest and truest forms of this kind of justice. Those who committed the crime paid for it. In cases of South Africa and apartheid, if I was a victim I don’t think I would be too happy with a truth and reconciliations committee handling the human rights violations that I endured. Just because a person comes forward and admits to a crime, to receive amnesty, does not mean that they are sorry nor does it mean that if thing devolved back to the same situation that they wouldn’t partake in it once more.

Transitional justice is always important, when it comes to human rights violations. Depending on the situation and the people that the situation involves the formula for this type of justice must be derived. (Although personally I would just put the violators on trial.) Transitional justice almost becomes irrelevant once a certain amount of time has passed. This doesn’t mean that the immorality of the crime has decreased, it just means that in contemporary times we have already gotten over it (for lack of a better term) and by then stirring up old issues isn’t such a good idea.

When it comes to reconciliation I do not think it is ever possible. It’s a lot to ask of a victim to forgive the person or group of people who have taken away their basic human rights. As we heard from both Henry and Riena, forgiveness is not possible. Although I think it is important to not that neither survivor is hostile to the German people as a whole. Its important for victims to realize that their oppressors did not represent the believes and ideas of their whole group.

Personally if I were a victim, I would want revenge. I would want that son of a gun on trial in front of a group of well-educated and well-versed people who would conjure up a plan to punish this person or group of people. Additionally, and almost more importantly, I would want the public to be educated of the on going. Not only with in the country where it happened, not only with in my homeland, but internationally. I think that its important for the world as a community to come together, as a well educated group, and acknowledge what is good and what is evil and punish the ladder.
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  #19  
Old 04-03-2012, 17:33
larkin14 larkin14 is offline
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Apology Not Accepted

Although it might not always be as effective as it should be, I do believe that transitional justice should at least be attempted after human rights violations. If it is something that happened long ago though, I don’t think that transitional justice should try to be achieved because that is just bringing the issue back up again. However, if it is not too long after, transitional justice is a good way for the criminals to understand they can not get away with what they did, and it is also a way for the victims to try to heal. It can be a tricky situation though because both sides have to agree to it. There are going to be those people who want the criminals killed immediately and to be honest, I’d probably feel the same way at first. I think it is truly remarkable that Amy Biehl’s parents were able to support the TRC’s decision to pardon her murderers. I don’t know if I could do that and I also wondered if other people were against pardoning them as well. While I do think it’s great that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission went about the situation in South Africa peacefully, I wonder how many people really felt closure and justice for what was done. PlasticWrapped also pointed out, “But the problem is... people can admit what they did was wrong without meaning it. That's a large problem. How can you make someone actually feel guilty for what they did? To acknowledge everything?” This would definitely be a thought on my mind if I knew someone who had been killed. Are these people really sorry for what they’ve done? Not to mention that the perpetrators might not want to admit they’re wrong in the first place. That’s an even bigger problem.

The Nuremberg Trials are an example of transitional justice that I don’t think was very effective. As Max Frankel pointed out, why did we need to have a court trial to determine that these German people were wrong? They took over a country and killed millions of people. It was so horrible that it seems ridiculous to even need to hold court for it. The Nuremberg Trials were in a way, pointless because the perpetrators didn’t really understand what they had done was wrong, they were simply executed. I think this defeats the purpose of transitional justice because both sides are supposed to come to some sort of agreement.

I don’t believe that true reconciliation after such events can be truly be achieved, and it shouldn’t have to be either. Even if someone says they’ve forgiven the person, they are probably lying and deep down inside they haven’t. At first I thought of the saying “forgive but never forget” but we are talking about someone possibly killing one of your family members here. If I were the victim of human rights abuses I would probably want the perpetrators to be in jail for life. I would ever be able to forgive them but I wouldn’t want them to be killed either. In a way, being killed almost seems like the easy way out anyways. I’d want them to have to live with what they’d done.
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  #20  
Old 04-03-2012, 22:08
urb@ng!rl724 urb@ng!rl724 is offline
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Forgive Don't Forget

I think transitional justice is necessary once human rights have been violated. It gives victims, as well as perpetrators, a sense of closure and assurance that what has happened to them will never again happen to someone else, or at least an attempt at this. Transitional justice, just as traditional justice, at times leaves one side feeling betrayed or wronged because there is a loser and a winner. What makes transitional justice different, though, is that it aims to correct the injustice by helping both sides (the perpetrator and the victim) reconcile and move on, and by preventing that wrong from ever happening again. Another issue with transitional justice is that it some victims have been so oppressed and betrayed by their perpetrator that they seek revenge not reconciliation, so they oppose peace and truth commissions and desire criminal prosecutions and executions. But will the perpetrator’s death really improve conditions for the victims. In terms of human rights violations, it will certainly stop the perpetrator from doing what he has done again, but there will always be another Adolf Hitler. This has proven to be true countless times before in countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Japan, and Turkey. The question is: how do we really prevent large-scale human rights violations from happening again?

I think transitional justice is essential, whether it be criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations, and/or institutional reform. If human rights violations go unnoticed, they will continue to affect the victims and perpetrators in communities or leave a permanent stamp on the community itself. I think it’s important that the transitional justice be instituted immediately after human rights have been violated. If there is no transitional justice brought to a community, victims and perpetrators could develop even stronger feelings of hate that can fester in the community for decades. In some cases, though, late is better than never. I’m sure the victims of the Armenian genocide would still want at least to be recognized as victims for all their suffering. The public apology is the most important thing sometimes. Truth commissions are important to explain why and to hear both sides of the story. I think they are a good thing after large-scale human rights violations. I think after small-scale human rights violations, a truth commission is not necessary, but, if requested, the victim has a right to an explanation.

Max Frankel’s “The War and the Law” gave me a new perspective on the Nuremberg trials. Although comforting to know that the perpetrators were executed, many victims of the Holocaust could never move on from the traumatic experiences they had in death and concentration camps and in ghettos. That’s why many survivors later committed suicide or suffered from PTSD. We will never know if a truth commission in Europe could have helped the people of Nazi-occupied Europe move on and up. With bodies unidentified, survivors displaced, and families incomplete, people around the world cheered on the Nuremberg “judges” and chanted “Never Again”, and yet, just a few years later were back in the same position in South Africa and Rwanda and Bosnia.

I disagree with mattshadows when he says that Frankel claims that trial prosecutions for human rights abuses and war crimes are wrong. I think Frankel is just truing to say that the trials were hasty and not exactly fair, in terms of court justice today, but I don’t think Frankel opposes trials and prosecutions, he just wants more to be done to move on from human rights violations.

I don’t know if true reconciliation is possible after a traumatic violation of human rights, but closure can be, which is why it’s important to talk difficult matters out. If I was the victim of a human rights violation, I would want criminal prosecutions, but no executions, because that’s getting out too easy. I’d also want institutional reform, so the government that I fund actually makes laws to protect me. I’d definitely want truth commissions because I’d deserve an explanation, I’d want to know what happened to my family and friends, and the perpetrators have to take responsibility. I don’t think I’d want amnesty given, but if that was the only way to get the truth, I would accept this.
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