Sierra Leone. Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Legislative hearings -- Sierra Leone.
Victims of violent crimes -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Sierra Leone.
Civil rights -- Sierra Leone.
This article uses an ethnographic description of a provincial public hearing in Sierra Leone to explore the paradoxical fact that in truth commissions, the truth is seldom told. It argues that the truth was not told for a variety of reasons, some of which are related to the special circumstances of the District, some to the problematic relationship of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the Special Court, some to organizational infirmities of the TRC itself, and some to the fact that public truth-telling lacks deep roots in the local cultures of Sierra Leone. By contrast, a staged ceremony of repentance and forgiveness on the final day struck resonant chords with the participants and succeeded in forging a reconciliatory moment. The implication, argues the article, is that in certain circumstances ritual may be more important to reconciliation than truth.
This article examines major theoretical dilemmas underpinning measures of transitional justice in general and the reparation of victims of human rights violations in particular. It assesses the role of financial compensation, justice, truth-telling, forgiveness, democratization, and other factors that are assumed to heal victims of political violence. In order to test their influence, we conducted a survey of former political prisoners in the Czech Republic. Findings from our regression analyses reveal that reparation is a two-dimensional process that incorporates sociopolitical redress and inner healing. These dimensions correlate positively with financial compensation and democratization; and negatively with public truth telling, the lack of reconciliation, and continued stigmatization by neighbors. At the same time, most proxies of retributive desires are not significantly related to the outcomes of reparation. These associations are interpreted in the light of narrative accounts obtained through interviews, letters, and observations. The results indicate that individual reparation, if it is to be successful, must be an organic part of a broader policy of social reconstruction. Based on our findings, we propose a victim-oriented model of social reconstruction for transitional countries.
Are civic states culturally neutral? The Turkish model of civic nationalism is often praised as a success, albeit an authoritarian one, in creating a unitary national culture. In fact, Turkey's national identity has come at a steep cultural cost. Civic institutions have homogenized and folklorized minority cultures. Ethnoreligious conceptions of Turkish identity have underpinned immigration and naturalization, internal movement and resettlement, education, language, and cultural policies. Turkish nationalism has weighed heaviest on Kurds, Islamists, religious minorities, and the left. A state-run "Turkish Reformation" of Islam failed in the 1930s; more recent attempts to nationalize Islam have turned the state into a mouthpiece for mainstream Sunni doctrine. The Turkish case suggests that in states with deep societal divisions, the dream of civic nationalism may be a coerced one.
Ushered in during the 1990s in response to development failures of the structural adjustment era, human rights-based approaches to development have proliferated in recent years. Nonetheless, the rhetoric has so far not been matched by conceptual rigor, systematization of practice, or lessons-learning—shortcomings that may undermine continuing support for such approaches. This Article seeks to contribute conceptual clarity to the frequently muddy waters of rights-based approaches, addressing in particular the conceptual and practical relevance of the international human rights normative framework to development cooperation within the UN system. The analysis focuses upon particular niches in which a normatively rigorous model for rights-based programming seems uniquely adapted, that is to say, in addressing asymmetries of power, the phenomenon known as "elite capture," and the transformation of violent conflict. The Article concludes with a reminder of the challenges and prerequisites for the wider implementation of rights-based approaches, and of the urgency of the need for a strengthened conceptual framework for empowerment and accountability.
This article takes a "second look" at the place of the South African Human Rights Commission and its role in the promotion of socioeconomic rights through monitoring. It argues that a "first look" at understanding drew heavily on international concepts of monitoring, including those of violations and progressive realization. These concepts have proven to be of limited usefulness in a national context where the justiciability of socioeconomic rights has been achieved. This "second look" proposes an alternative model of national monitoring of socioeconomic rights, based on greater participation, transparency, and a constitutional right of access to information.
This paper seeks to address whether or not there could be a common ground between applying Islamic Sharia law and gender equality through an examination of the textual Sharia rulings regarding polygamy and divorce, a comparison of this theoretical framework with the applied laws in Egypt and Tunisia, and, finally, an attempt to show the relationship between the divine texts, jurisprudence, and the role of Ijtihad in responding to social change. The paper argues that the deterioration of women's rights in many Islamic countries has nothing to do with their Islamic nature but rather with their patriarchal nature. Islam introduced a number of revolutionary rights to women at the time of revelation; therefore, the spirit of the Quran points towards ultimate equality between the sexes in a gradual process, similar to the case of slavery. As the Quran puts great emphasis on the right to seek justice and the duty to do justice, and because the first aim of Sharia is to maintain justice and defend public welfare, all means to achieve justice and public welfare are Islamic in nature. The dynamic nature of Islamic teachings, the evolving character of Sharia, the spirit of Islam towards women's rights, the principles of justice and public welfare, and the essentiality of feminist Ijtihad leave no room for doubt that a common ground could be found between Islamic law and gender equality.
The distinction between "political" and "common" crime has long been an unremarked-upon assumption undergirding human rights work. Yet in recent decades these boundaries have become blurred in many parts of the world, making it sometimes impossible to separate the two. This article explores the shifting categories of violence in the specific context of postwar Guatemala, arguing that the familiar distinction between "common" and "political" crime has always been based on an abstraction—an abstraction that has become increasingly tendentious in recent years. This is problematic, not only because it fails to stand up to empirical scrutiny, but because it has important political consequences that affect the success of broader human rights initiatives.
This article argues that the widely justified and internationally promoted model of minority protection can only operate effectively by transcending the still dominant framework of individual rights and incorporating the concept of collective rights. In defending that position, this article will elucidate the main legal theoretical dilemmas of the concept of collective rights. Sustaining a coherent concept of collective rights requires recognition of the intrinsic, non-instrumental value of certain collective entities and of the fact that not all groupings are entitled to be moral and legal rights bearers. Legal criteria for defining collective rights can also be established, by distinguishing this notion from affirmative action measures, jointly exercised individual rights, and somewhat universal general legal norms. Furthermore, the lack of homogeneity within minority culture, religion, language, etc., could be legally overcome if bodies representing the interests of minorities are founded on the principles of voluntariness, electoral accountability, proportionality, and democracy. Ultimately, although this approach creates the possibility of conflicts between collective and individual rights, it can provide legal techniques for balancing the interests of individuals, respective collectives, and the state.
The need for a human rights dimension to the development process is recognized by a growing number of states and international organizations. The tendency so far has been to focus on rights in a general sense, although there is some recognition of the need to consider the rights of indigenous peoples in a development context. The integration of these rights into development programs can encounter difficulties partly because of the uncertainty surrounding the scope of some of the more important rights claimed by indigenous peoples. The article examines the scope of these rights under international law and explores some of their potential implications for the development process. It argues that while some of these human rights claims are not yet recognized under international law, the position is continually evolving. It also argues that the increasing recognition of several rights, especially the right to effective participation, may help to address the sense of marginalization traditionally experienced by indigenous peoples from the development process.
Family violence -- Law and legislation -- Singapore.
Family violence -- Law and legislation -- Malaysia.
This article examines domestic violence laws in two Asian jurisdictions and highlights the importance of using a gender analysis to create an alternative narrative of, and different solutions to, the problem. The paper reviews some of the theoretical analyses of domestic violence and draws on international human rights discourse to supplement domestic developments. The tension between cultural norms and international norms is considered and it is suggested that certain universal norms need to be championed—in this case the right of women to be free from domestic violence.
Tomaševski, K. (Katarina)
Un-asked Questions about Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from the Experience of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (1998-2004): A Response to Kenneth Roth, Leonard S. Rubenstein, and Mary Robinson [Access article in HTML][Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Roth, Kenneth. Defending economic, social and cultural rights: practical issues faced by an international human rights organization.
Roth, Kenneth. Response to Leonard S. Rubenstein.
Rubenstein, Leonard S. How international human rights organizations can advance economic, social and cultural rights: a response to Kenneth Roth.
Robinson, Mary 1944- Advancing economic, social, and cultural rights: the way forward.