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    Africa’s dilemma: Transitioning from where to where?

    2014-11-19 - http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/77229Transitional Justice seeks to enable societies to come to terms with legacies of large-scale past abuse, in order to secure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation towards a future that is democratic and free from violence, but its groundings and mechanisms are fraught with multiple dilemmas.

    Beyond the TJ Industry: Transitional justice and changing international order

    2014-11-21 - https://thehaguetrials.co.ke/article/witness-516-declared-hostile-prosecution-witness-0The flashy branding of the transitional justice process as ‘TJ’ does more to keep oppressive systems in place than to bring real progress where it is needed. Transitional justice must be used as a catalyst to foment real, case-by-case systemic changes instead of as a one-size-fits-all neoliberal template.

    Transitional justice: Challenging contemporary knowledge, narratives and practice

    2014-11-21 - https://www.dosomething.org/blog/chatterbox/genocide-rwanda-15-years-laterTransitional Justice has rarely taken into account all forms of oppression, economic discrimination, globalized injustice and a wider understanding of dignity and freedom. African societies need to theorize on transitional justice holistically in order to create social transformation.

    Jurisprudential and political economic dimensions of transitional justice in Africa

    2014-11-21 - http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/04/ivory-coasts-leader-under-siege/100040/Sustainable and lasting peace in Africa’s conflict states would be better guaranteed if transitional justice included the rule of law, separation of powers, electoral reforms, decentralization and a democratic ethos nurtured by free media and a vibrant civil society.

    Exploring transitional (and other kinds of) justice in Zimbabwe

    2014-11-21 - http://www.afropop.org/wp/6938/mhoze-chikowero-a-historians-take-on-thomas-mapfumo-and-robert-mugabe/The debate around how to deal with Zimbabwe’s violent past is currently dominated by the transitional justice model and the human rights discourse which accompanies it. But an analysis of the country’s history as well as its present moment presents different ways of considering ideas of justice and healing – ways that may be better suited to Zimbabwe’s particular circumstances.

    The transitional justice process in Kenya: Unfinished business?

    2014-11-21 - https://thehaguetrials.co.ke/article/witness-516-declared-hostile-prosecution-witness-0Kenya’s transitional justice processes have been crudely politicized to protect the interests of the powerful. The country typifies the dilemma that plagues most African countries today. While most of the regimes are beginning to acknowledge that there have been atrocities, human rights abuses and various forms of injustice, they simultanesouly appear to be perplexed by the demands for peace and justice.

    Transitional justice: Whose justice?

    2014-11-21 - http://globalsolutions.org/blog/2010/03/ICC-Prosecutor-Names-20-People-Involved-Instigating-Kenyan-Post-Election-Violence#.VG8-lTSUeSoThe quest for justice for past wrongs is often hindered by restrictions on which violations to investigate and how far back to look into history. Across Africa, tjustice mechanisms tend to restrict themselves to uncontested periods and rarely probe into complex injustices.

    Somalia: Let’s just forget the past?

    2014-11-18 - http://www.somalinet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=350734&start=75It will be impossible to reconstruct Somalia without addressing its complex past. Yet the current definition of transitional justice appears too narrow to be beneficial, since it limits the space for local-based procedures in favour of Western concepts like the state, rule of law and democracy.

    From the comfort zones to reality

    A reflection on the Tafakari oral narrative tour 2014-11-18 - http://www.fahamu.orgThe oral history tour took transitional justice practitioners, activists and scholars out of the comfort zone into reality: To engage directly with survivors, hear their personal stories and appreciate their lived experiences as they pursue justice and reconstruction within complex social, economic and political infrastructures.

    Shifting the discourse from victimhood to reconstruction

    2014-11-21 - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094419For transitional justice to be relevant and effective it must be informed by local understandings of justice. The form of justice should be informed by local priorities as identified by victims and survivors.

    Situating transitional justice in the context of South Sudan

    2014-11-18 - http://www.voanews.com/content/uganda-playing-a-critical-role-to-solve-south-sudan-conflict/1834648.htmlAfrica’s newest nation has been engulfed in violent conflict for a year now. It is sad that the freedom struggle that lasted so long has not translated into quality life for the majority of the citizens. The root causes of this must be addressed – and they have everything to do with failed leadership.

    The site

    2014-11-21 - http://www.pambazuka.orgA reflective poem by a Kenyan activist who visited Mukura Massacre Memorial site in Soroti region of Uganda where on July 11, 1989, the 106th battalion of the National Resistance Army (NRA) allegedly rounded up 300 men from Mukura and other surrounding areas and incarcerated some of them in a train wagon. These men were suspected of being rebel collaborators against the NRA regime, but there is little evidence to suggest that most of them were anything other than innocent civilians.

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    Two More 'Police Incidents,' Shrouded in Media Euphemism

    FAIR blog - 5 hours 38 min ago
    That so many black people are killed by law enforcement is a painful, difficult thing to face. Perhaps that's why media try so hard to look away.

    Torture Report: Mark Udall's Historic Moment to Rescue CIA Oversight

    Truthout - 7 hours 22 min ago

    In the struggle over the release of the CIA torture report, a litmus test of the ability and willingness of Congress to conduct any meaningful oversight of the CIA, outgoing Colorado Sen. Mark Udall may be the Senate Democrats' last line of defense.

    Sen. Mark Udall. (Photo: Talk Radio News Service / Flickr)Will Truthout keep publishing stories like this in 2015 and beyond? That depends on readers like you. Donate now to ensure our work continues!

    "Time Is Running Out on the CIA Torture Report," National Journal reports:

    Backroom negotiations over the release of a long-delayed Senate report on the George W. Bush administration's use of so-called "enhanced interrogation" practices are again hitting a wall.
    [...]
    The Senate is set to adjourn in mid-December, but [Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne] Feinstein can still hold off on submitting the report until the start of next year by obtaining a consent agreement that would allow her to file when Congress is not in session.

    But the extension would only give Feinstein a few weeks of extra daylight. The current Senate will formally expire at noon on Jan. 3.
    [...]
    The continued fraying of negotiations has some suggesting that the White House might be intentionally stalling, in hopes that it can run out the clock on the report's release, especially with Republicans slated to take over.

    National Journal notes that outgoing Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) - no longer constrained even in theory by the perceived need to curry favor with power - is the last line of defense for Senate Democrats: He can declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's preferred version of the report by himself, by reading it into the Congressional Record, under the protection of the US Constitution's speech or debate clause.

    More is at stake than establishing a public record on the CIA's use of torture and its illegal attempts to hide its crimes from other executive branch officials and Congress, important though that is. The struggle over the release of the CIA torture report is a litmus test of the ability and willingness of Congress to conduct any meaningful oversight of the CIA at all. If Senate Democrats lose this crucial confrontation with the CIA, the negative effects are likely to be wide-ranging and long-lasting.

    As National Journal notes, "Civil-liberties advocates say publicizing the document also represents a major sign of progress for the Intelligence Committee as it seeks to reestablish itself as a watchdog of the CIA." Acting as a watchdog over the intelligence agencies - that's exactly what the Intelligence Committee was established by the Senate to do following the CIA scandals of the 1970s. You can only "reestablish" yourself as something if you stopped doing it. So what's at stake here is whether the Intelligence Committee can resume the role assigned to it by Congress of acting as a watchdog over the CIA. The likely alternative is no effective oversight of the CIA by Congress at all.

    If there is no effective oversight of the CIA by Congress at all, that's a mortal threat to the idea that we should be a constitutional, rule of law democracy when it comes to deciding on the use of military force in other people's countries.

    Many of the democratic, rule of law and human rights abuses of the "long war" since 2001 are fundamentally questions of CIA oversight or the lack of it. How many civilians have been killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? The government refuses to say publicly, because "that's classified." How did such a basic fact get to be classified? Because the drone war is a "CIA operation." The planes are generally US military planes; the pilots are generally US military pilots. But it's a "CIA operation," so it's classified.

    Of course the track record suggests that the causation actually runs the other way; it's not classified because it's a CIA operation; it's a CIA operation in order for it to be classified. The Obama administration has chosen to make it a CIA operation so the US government won't have to answer questions about it on the public record. The executive branch has perceived - largely correctly, unfortunately, until now - stamping a CIA label on an operation as a get-out-of-jail-free card to escape transparency and accountability.

    This game is extremely damaging to the Schoolhouse Rock notion that we should make basic policy choices in a transparent and democratic way about whether, when and how the US government should try to kill people in other people's countries.

    Consider the question of US military involvement in the civil war in Syria. This is a policy that was chosen without a congressional debate and vote. Last year, when it was first proposed that the United States arm Syrian insurgents, a bipartisan group of members of Congress, led by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R- New York), objected and introduced an amendment to block it.

    But the Republican leadership in the House, acting in collusion with the White House, blocked the Gibson-Welch amendment from coming to a vote. The consequence of this was that the administration was able to run the policy of arming Syrian rebels as a CIA operation with the approval of the intelligence committees - Congress didn't debate and Congress didn't vote. The current strength of ISIS is in significant measure a consequence of US military intervention in Syria's civil war; some of their weapons were originally sent to other Syrian rebels, but Congress never approved that.

    This year, Congress did debate and vote on a military program to arm and train the Syrian rebels. But by this time, the CIA program was already an accomplished fact. Indeed, The Washington Post reports that the CIA program is already operating at the scale that the military program is supposed to be operating at a year from now.

    The size of the CIA program turns the congressional debate over the military program into a kind of farce. On the one hand, we're going to have this great show of a debate and vote on the military program, allowing Congress to attach transparency and accountability conditions. Meanwhile, we'll do whatever the hell we want through the CIA. The facts on the ground created by the nontransparent and unaccountable CIA part of foreign military policy decisively shape debate on the (relatively) more transparent and accountable Pentagon part: What's the point of going to the wall to oppose or restrict the military program, if the administration is going to do whatever the hell they want anyway under a less transparent and less accountable CIA program?

    On the CIA torture report, Senate Democrats drew a line in the sand. "Choose your battles," the saying goes. That's the battle that the Senate Democrats chose. That's where they put down their marker. That's why, if the Senate Democrats lose this confrontation, it will be especially devastating. The story will be told that even when Senate Democrats decided to make a stand for CIA oversight, they got rolled.

    And that's why it's so urgent for Senator Udall to find his phone booth and change into his Transparency Man superhero uniform. At this writing, 140,000 Americans are urging Udall to act. You can join us here.

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