In Focus


ICTJ spoke with Marlon Weichert, prominent human rights advocate and regional prosecutor with the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil (Ministério Público Federal), on Brazil's pending truth commission bill and calls for accountability measures addressing past violations in Brazil.


As the United States and Colombia near the signing of a free-trade agreement and resolve differences over labor rights and other issues, the problematic extraditions of paramilitaries accused of savage crimes committed during the years of counter-insurgency remain far from the spotlight.


For a long time, making compromises on justice with powerful perpetrators of mass atrocities has been an integral part of peace negotiations ending conflicts. The immediate concern of ending the violence often resulted in amnesties for war crimes and crimes against humanity, sometimes even presenting the calls for justice as obstacles to peace.


ICTJ is pleased to announce the appointment of Theodore M. Shaw to its Governance Board. Mr. Shaw is an internationally recognized leader in the field of civil rights law. His broad experience as a civil rights advocate and scholar will bring added strategic vision to the Center’s board.


As the United States and global audiences were informed of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. special forces, we are reminded how crucially important justice is in the discourse on America’s fight against terrorism. On the eve of these momentous events, ICTJ President David Tolbert spoke to an audience at American University in Washington about the need for the U.S. to ensure accountability for the conduct of its “war on terror.”


As the number of victims of violence against demonstrators in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere in the region rises, a question emerges for the government of Bashar al-Assad of Syria, but also those of Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah of Bahrain and the vacillating international community: Can impunity for such crimes be permitted in this day and age?


South Africa’s Constitutional Court recently made a landmark ruling on the right to speak the truth about crimes amnestied by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. ICTJ Truth-Seeking Consultant Howard Varney speaks about the ruling and its significance for South Africa and other countries.


Some habits die hard. This is especially true of ways of thinking. Despite significant changes in national and international law and practice in the last thirty years—the period that corresponds with the emergence of transitional justice as a field—the recent upheaval in the Middle East and Northern Africa region has provoked proposals that hearken back to a period that we may have thought long gone.


The allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the final phases of the conflict in Sri Lanka, made in the Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka released on April 25, must be thoroughly investigated. This is the first comprehensive UN report examining the events in the Vanni region between January and May of 2009 and it alleges that “tens of thousands of civilians” were killed. The Government of Sri Lanka, but also the relevant international bodies, cannot claim credibility if these findings are ignored.


SEILS: ICTJ are delighted to host today a real giant in the world of political and legal struggle. Albie Sachs has not only played a huge and influential role in the development of the South African constitution but after being nominated by Nelson Mandela for 15 years in the new constitutional court. That success Of course came after very difficult and arduous path that included imprisonment, exile and the survival of an assassination attempt.