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Truth-seeking after violent conflict: experiences from South Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Truth-seeking efforts have gained an increasingly central position in the process of dealing with a legacy of mass abuse following political transition to democracy or the end of violent conflict. The place that 'truth' assumes within the transitional justice framework has often been subject to controversy. What seems to be commonly agreed upon is that creating the conditions for finding and revealing the truth is essential in any process of transition. We posit that restorative justice paradigm can be an attractive approach to inform future truth-seeking mechanisms. We propose a framework for guiding such truth-seeking mechanisms based on restorative justice principles that reverberate in current debates as well as in the official discourse laid down in the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters. The significance and application of these principles will be illustrated in the transitional justice processes of South Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina; South Africa; restorative justice; transitional justice; truth-seeking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leuven Institute of Criminology, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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