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Truth commissions in post-communism: The overlooked solution?

Stan, Lavinia
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) The Open Political Science Journa. 2:1-13.

Despite their increased popularity in Latin America, Africa and Asia, truth commissions have remained an
overlooked solution to coming to terms with the recent human rights abuses perpetrated in communist Europe. Since the
start of the democratization process in the early 1990s, only Germany, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,
and Romania have employed truth commissions as methods to reckon with communist crimes. These five commissions
share important similarities and differences in terms of their organizational structure, goals, activity, and efficacy. The
scarcity of truth commissions in post-communist Europe is explained by the nature of communist repression, the
legitimacy of the communist regime as a home-grown versus an externally-imposed political set of institutions and
practices, and the use of lustration and access to secret files as methods to obtain truth, justice and reconciliation in posttotalitarian
times. (author’s abstract)


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