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Transitional justice and the TRC in Burundi: avoiding inconsequential chatter?

Taylor, David
June 4, 2015

Source: (2014) Contemporary Justice Review.17(2):195-215.

The ongoing experiment of transitional justice (TJ) may soon find a new testing ground in Burundi. A long anticipated truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) is slated for establishment in the near future. Yet, Burundi continues to face longstanding and deep-rooted problems in its social, political, legal and institutional landscape that will fall outside of the remit of the TRC process, but that stand to negatively affect that process. Absent reform in these areas, the risk exists that the TRC may be judged as little more than inconsequential chatter by a population that has already suffered decades of violent conflict, social exclusion, corruption, and impunity. Informed by theories of transformative justice, this examination considers the potential shortcomings of TJ mechanisms where such reforms are yet to take place. It is argued that in contexts like Burundi, where impunity has become the norm, TJ mechanisms should form one part of a more combined process that ultimately aims to tackle the structures and dynamics that led to violence and that are reproduced in the present. (author’s abstract)


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