Truth and reconciliation commission
A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government (or, depending on the circumstances, non-state actors also), in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war, or dictatorship. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by President Nelson Mandela and chaired by Desmond Tutu after apartheid, is popularly considered a model of truth commissions.
As government reports, they can provide proof against historical revisionism of state terrorism and other crimes and human rights abuses. Truth commissions are sometimes criticised for allowing crimes to go unpunished, and creating impunity for serious human rights abusers. Their roles and abilities in this respect depend on their mandates, which vary widely. Often, there is a public mandate to bring past human rights violators to justice, though in some cases (such as Argentina after 1983 and Chile after 1990), abuses of human rights have gone unpunished under truth commissions due to threats of antidemocratic coups by the powerful parties who endure in the military. In this sense, the militaries in question, having ceded control to a civilian government, insist that the "price" of ending their own military rule must be full impunity for any of their past abuses. In some cases, such as the "Full Stop" law of Argentina that prevented prosecution of officers of the military junta, this impunity has been enshrined in law under the civilian government.
One of the difficult issues that has arisen over the role of truth commissions in transitional societies, has centered on what should be the relationship between truth commissions and criminal prosecutions.
- The National Commission for Forced Disappearances (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas) investigated human rights violations, including 30,000 forced disappearances, committed during the Dirty War. The report produced by the commission included individual cases on 9,000 disappeared persons. However, in most cases, the commission was only able to determine the status of those disappeared, rather than being able to name the victimizers.
- The non-punitive Comissão Nacional da Verdade was approved in late 2011 by the Federal Senate and sanctioned by President Dilma Rousseff. The commission will last for two years and consist of seven members appointed by President Dilma Rousseff. Members of the commission will have access to all government files about the 1946–1988 period and may convene victims or people accused of violations for testimony, although it will not be mandatory for them to attend. After the end of the two years period, the commission will issue a report with its findings. The group will not have, however, the obligation to disclose everything they discover.
- The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a currently active (as of October 2013) commission investigating human rights abuses in the Canadian Indian residential school system.
- The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation (Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación) aims to help victims to recover from the armed conflict.
- The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Comisión Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliación; "Rettig Report") investigated deaths and disappearances, particularly for political reasons, under Augusto Pinochet's rule. The report was released in 1991. The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture ("Valech Report") also investigated human rights abuses from the reign of Augusto Pinochet. Released in 2004 and 2005, the commission differed from the previous one in that it investigated non-fatal violations of human rights, such as torture, and also covered children whose parents had disappeared or been killed. The report of this commission was used by the government of Chile to give out pensions and other benefits to survivors.
- Czech Republic
- The Office for the Documentation and the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism (Úřad dokumentace a vyšetřování zločinů komunismu) is a subdivision of Czech criminal police which investigates criminal acts from the period 1948-1989 which were unsolvable for political reasons during the Czechoslovak communist regime.
- La Comisión de la Verdad was established by the government to investigate the violation of human rights especially during the period of 1984 to 1988.
- El Salvador
- Established by the United Nations (instead of the Government of El Salvador), the establishment of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador (Comisión de la Verdad) (United Nations) was part of Chapultepec Peace Accords to end the Salvadoran Civil War. The commission investigated murders and executions committed during the war, including that of Óscar Romero. However, Romero's murder has to this date not been prosecuted, mostly due to the post-war entrenchment of politicians from the Arena party formerly led by Roberto D'Aubuisson (who led the death squads that assassinated Romero).
- Reconciliation and Unity Commission
- National Reconciliation Commission
- Historical Clarification Commission (Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico)
- Waki Commission: The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER).
- Truth Commission (Comisión de la Verdad)
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación)
- Institute of National Remembrance
- In 2010, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino announced that a Truth Commission will be formed to investigate unresolved issues concerning the previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On July 30, 2010, a month after being sworn-in as the 15th President of the Philippines, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1, creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010. However, the Supreme Court of the Philippines invalidated the executive order because of its apparent transgression of the equal protection clause for singling out the Arroyo administration. In his ponencia in Biraogo vs. Truth Commission, Justice Jose C. Mendoza blatantly tagged Aquino's Truth Commission "as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution."
- Sierra Leone
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Solomon Islands
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Solomon Islands). On April 29, 2009, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was launched by the Government of the Solomon Islands. Its aim would be to "address people’s traumatic experiences during the five year ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal (1999-2004)". It is modelled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. Its public hearings commenced in March 2010.
- South Africa
- After the transition from apartheid, President Nelson Mandela and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu authorized a truth commission to study the effects of apartheid in that country. The commission was simply called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- South Korea
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Sri Lanka
- Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
- East Timor
- Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação de Timor Leste; 2001–2005); Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (2005–2008)
- Uganda Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights (1986-1994)
- Ukrainian National Remembrance Institute - founded by president Yushchenko in 2006
- Truth-seeking processes allow societies to examine and come to grips with past crimes and atrocities and prevent their future repetition. Truth-seeking often occurs in societies emerging from a period of prolonged conflict or authoritarian rule.
- The German policy of Vergangenheitsbewältigung is commonly compared to truth and reconciliation
- Transitional justice
- Human rights commission
- See Lyal S. Sunga "Ten Principles for Reconciling Truth Commissions and Criminal Prosecutions", in The Legal Regime of the ICC (Brill) (2009) 1075-1108.
-  Colombian CNRR website
- Ager, Maila (June 29, 2010). "Davide named Truth Commission chief". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "President Releases LLRC Report To Parliament, The UN And Public". The Sunday Leader. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
Priscilla B. Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Facing Challenge of Truth Commissions. New York: Routledge, 2001.
Robert Rotberg and Dennis Thompson, eds., Truth versus Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions. Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0691050720