Source: (2009) Research Brief. October. New York: International Center for Transitional Justice.
Th e framework of transitional justice, originally devised to facilitate reconciliation in
countries undergoing transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, is increasingly
used to respond to certain types of human rights violations against indigenous peoplesâ€”
even in cases where there is no regime transition. Th e Canadian government has
attempted to use such measures as reparations, a truth commission, commemoration
and an offi cial state apology to address the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools.
Th is paper outlines some of the potential complexities involved in processing indigenous
demands for justice through a transitional justice framework.
Th ere are three broad areas in which the interests and goals of governments and indigenous
peoples may clash. First, governments and indigenous peoples may diff er over the
scope of injustices that transitional justice measures can address. Second, governments
may try to use transitional justice to draw a line through the past and legitimate present
policy, whereas indigenous peoples may try to use the past to critique present policy
and conditions. Th ird, governments may try to use transitional justice to assert their
sovereign and legal authority, while indigenous peoples may make competing claims to
sovereignty and legal authority. (excerpt)
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