Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo De Greiff

In this extremely lucid report Special Rapporteur De Greiff presents an argument for the importance of taking a comprehensive approach in addressing gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law. Such an approach must combine the four elements of truth-seeking, justice initiatives, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence in a complementary and mutually reinforcing manner.

The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that success in the implementation of the four measures under the mandate, and the likelihood that they will be interpreted as justice measures, depends upon paying heed to the tight and bidirectional relations between them when designing the relevant programs. To illustrate, just as reparations call for truth-telling if the benefits are to be interpreted as a justice measure, truth-telling calls for reparations if words are to be seen as more than inconsequential chatter. Similarly, beneficiaries of reparations programs are given stronger reasons to regard the sort of benefits usually conferred by these programs as reparations (as opposed to merely compensatory measures) if they proceed in tandem with efforts to prosecute human rights violators. Conversely, since criminal prosecutions without reparations may be thought to provide no direct benefit to victims other than a sense of vindication that otherwise does not change the circumstances of their lives, a policy based exclusively on prosecution is likely to be experienced by victims as an insufficient response to their own justice claims. Justice is not merely a call for insight but also requires action on the truths disclosed. Similarly, reparations in the absence of prosecutions, truth-seeking or institutional reform can easily be seen as an effort to buy the acquiescence of victims.

The Special Rapporteur goes on to consider concrete and far-reaching policy steps that governments in post-conflict settings must be willing to adopt.

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