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New York, December 10, 2021— In contexts such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of individuals have crossed national borders to engage in violent conflicts in which serious human rights violations and mass atrocities have been committed...

The role of police in society is to protect residents and enforce the rule of law. As a public institution, and particularly one whose function includes the state-sanctioned use of force, the effectiveness of the police depends on its integrity and legitimacy. When the police abuses its power, by brutalizing civilians and or engaging in corruption, it loses its credibility and the public’s trust. In Kenya, enforcement of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 have been accompanied by acts of police brutality, of the kind that Kenyans have been through multiple times before.

Sparing almost no corner of the world from its wrath, the COVID-19 pandemic has now spread to every country. In an effort to slow the contagion, governments in most countries have been taking drastic measures requiring all residents other than essential workers to confine themselves in their homes, and shutting down vast sectors of their economies. The impact has been crushing. COVID-19 has profoundly affected every country where ICTJ currently works: Armenia, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Uganda. We recently caught up with ICTJ’s heads of country programs to learn more about the impact the pandemic is having on transitional justice and society more broadly.

Tunis— On March 2-3, 2020, ICTJ is holding a conference in Tunis, Tunisia, on the fight against corruption and the recovery of ill-gotten assets as a critical element of transitional justice processes. The conference will bring together activists, policymakers, and experts from Tunisia and other countries in the global South emerging from conflict or authoritarian rule, including Armenia, The Gambia, Kenya, the Philippines, and South Africa.

Given the political challenges emerging from authoritarian states and conflicts in Africa, what is the best way to pursue accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law on the continent? ICTJ experts Chris Gitari and Howard Varney sit down to discuss regional initiatives, complementarity, and other strategies for pursuing accountability.

On April 11, 2019, Jaqy Mutere, cofounder and coleader of Grace Agenda, accepted an award from Physicians for Human Rights recognizing the work of the Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network and Grace Agenda, a leader in this movement. Jaqy cofounded Grace Agenda after she began working with women who, like her, had experienced sexual violence during the protests that erupted in Kenya after the contested December 2007 elections.

On February 14, Kenyans once again confronted their painful relationship with law enforcement and revisited the deep mistrust born of historical abuses. In an unprecedented ruling, a court found five senior police officers potentially culpable in gruesome murder during the police response to the 2017 post-election protests. On the same day, a senior police officer was convicted of murder and jailed for life.

Many countries have endured a violent past or a dictatorship that left behind a trail of human rights violations. During transitions to peaceful societies or democracies, there is a need to address that painful past to ensure that the violations do not recur in future. While some countries have made or are making laudable efforts to deal with the atrocities of the past, others like Kenya are regrettably still at the phase of wishing the painful past away.

Kenyan media house Africa Uncensored has teamed up with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) on a documentary that explores the Bulla Karatasi massacre that took place in the northern region of Garissa, Kenya, and its impact on communities in the North. The documentary will advance ICTJ’s efforts to partner with civil society on community-state dialogue initiatives, engage stakeholders around political and constitutional reforms stemming from the TJRC’s recommendations, and achieve redress for the legacy of state violence in Garissa and other communities in Northern Kenya.

From October 1 to October 5, 2018, ICTJ hosted its eleventh intensive course on transitional justice in collaboration with the International Peace Center for in Barcelona. Participants included leaders in their respective fields, including human rights law, community justice and legal services, peacebuilding, education, and humanitarian affairs.