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3 Lustration Systems and Their Operation Czechoslovakia also had an interest in ensuring the morality of its government officials. The country could boast the world’s most professionally moral head of state; why staff the government with finks? Democracy requires confidence in government institutions, and Czechoslovaks were not going to trust a government staffed with old Communists. While they debated lustrace, Czechoslovaks heard the [1992] U.S. presidential election. Americans were passionately interested in Bill Clinton’s alleged affair with Gennifer Flowers; many felt that the episode said a lot about Bill Clinton’s character and qualification to be president. —Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land1 This chapter explains how personnel systems operate in practice. It focuses on three archetypal versions of personnel systems: the exclusive, the inclusive , and the reconciliatory systems, which developed in the Czech Republic , Hungary, and Poland, respectively, in the 1990s. In Central Europe, these personnel systems were governed by transitional public employment laws known as lustration laws because they incorporated a lustration procedure : a method of screening inherited personnel against the socialist-era secret police archives. Lustration system is a regional variant of personnel system, which is theoretically derived from these lustration laws. It is a subset of personnel systems; both lustration systems and personnel systems may be classified as exclusive, inclusive, or reconciliatory. The need for two concepts that both denote processes for dealing with inherited personnel who may have been perpetrators of human rights violations may seem PAGE 65 ................. 18039$ $CH3 06-09-11 09:18:08 PS 66 Chapter 3 unnecessary. However, the term personnel system does not honor the widely accepted regional nomenclature of lustration laws that spread across Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Conversely, the term lustration system is not an appropriate label for personnel systems, which did not incorporate lustration procedures per se. The Dual Meaning of Lustration Lustration has been viewed by some scholars as a process of purge,2 vetting,3 non-criminal sanctions,4 or administrative justice,5 while others see it as the process of a ritual sacrifice.6 In view of the symbolic meaning of political and legal processes (Chapter 2), we argue that lustration encompasses both meanings: it is a political-security process, which signifies the purification of society. No other term can capture these meanings as vividly as lustration . The dual perspective on lustrations can be traced back to the Latin origin of the English word. Lustration derives from the noun lustratio and the verb lustrare, which has two meanings: to review, survey, observe, examine; and ‘‘purify by means of a propitiatory offering,’’ ‘‘purifications by sacrifice,’’ ‘‘ritual sacrifices.’’7 Lustration was barely used in English before 1990,8 when it was revitalized by its Czech-language equivalent, lustrace, which alluded to the first meaning.9 Lustrace was a technical term used by Slavophone archivists for searching an inventory, registry, or database for a particular name10 or other relevant information.11 The word lustrum then means the result of this search, an excerpt from an official registry or a catalogue, such as a land registry.12 Lustration as a means of examination in order to gain information (e.g., to check on a person’s background) has been used by the police as well as other government agencies. For example, ‘‘property lustration’’ refers to the disclosure of the property situation of politicians in Poland,13 and ‘‘lustration of second-hand cars’’ in the Czech Republic means the verification of data about a vehicle in the databases of stolen vehicles.14 ‘‘Lustration’’ as screening has been colloquially used outside the political sphere as well, for instance, to determine the suitability of parents who wish to adopt a child.15 Prior to 1989, lustrace was also used by the socialist-era Czechoslovak secret police to determine whether any information existed about a person of interest is its databases.16 According to the Czech historian Jiřı́ Žáček, the PAGE 66 ................. 18039$ $CH3 06-09-11 09:18:08 PS Operation 67 term lustration as used by the police referred to the process of inquiry initiated by an operative or a leading member of the Czechoslovak Corps of National Security directed at the statistical evidence department to determine whether any data existed about a particular person.17 Two kinds of data were gathered: information about persons who were considered inimical to the socialist regime, and information about secret police informers.18 Following the collapse of socialist regimes, lustration has maintained the same meaning...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812205763
Related ISBN
9780812243314
MARC Record
OCLC
793012603
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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