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Transitional Justice in Postconflict Contexts: The Case of Sierra Leone’s Dual Accountability Mechanisms

Lydia Apori Nkansah, John
June 4, 2015

Literature on in-depth studies of dual transitional justice mechanisms in postconflict
settings is inadequate. This qualitative case study sought to understand the practice of
dual transitional justice by examining the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
and the Special Court engaged for transitional justice in postconflict Sierra Leone. Data
consisted of documentary sources, observational field notes and 31 individual semistructured
interviews with open-ended questions of Sierra Leonean public officials,
United Nations officials, and TRC and Special Court officials, as well as civil society
actors. Data were analyzed through detailed “description”, “categorical aggregation”,
“direct interpretation”, establishment of “correspondence and patterns”, and development
of “naturalistic generalizations”. It was found that because the 2 institutions were not
planned and coordinated as different parts of the same tool, they were pitched against
each other, undermining their respective mandates and creating tensions in their efforts to
implement their plans. Also, the Sierra Leonean populace, civil society organizations, the
government and the international community, including the United Nations, were divided
in their opinions, sentiments and support for the 2 mechanisms. The implication of this
study is that the policy choice, design and packaging of restorative and retributive
mechanisms for postconflict transitional justice should not create conflict so that they can
link seamlessly to the strategic goal of peace and stability. The knowledge of the
dynamics of dual transitional justice is useful for governments, policy makers, the United
Nations and especially the International Criminal Court whose intervention in a country
may run parallel to a restorative process.


AbstractAcademicAfricaPolicePost-Conflict ReconciliationRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsStatutes and LegislationTeachers and Students
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