Week 3 Short Answer

The United Nations’ defines transitional justice as the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation. It refers to the set of judicial and non-judicial measures that have been implemented by different countries. These measures include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs and various kinds of institutional reforms. Transitional justice is also defined as the conception of justice associated with periods of political change characterized by legal responses to confront wrongdoings of repressive predecessor regimes. While there are different definitions offered for transitional justice, the goal of it remains the same. Countries that undergo transitional justice ultimately want a reform to strengthen the democratic rule of law. Another critical goal of this concept is to provide recognition of the rights of victims and to prevent the past from reoccurring. Acknowledging the wrongdoings of government officials provides its victims with closure, a vital component for growth.
Despite the good solutions resulting from transitional justice, it is still associated with challenges. It is difficult to decipher between victims and perpetrators. Therefore, some perpetrators may continue to hold power in the country. There is sometimes a lack of evidence to penalize these perpetrators for their wrongdoings. While the ICC does not want to ignore the cries of victims, it is not ethical to convict someone of crimes to this degree without valid proof, which is how some suspects manage to avoid conviction and often maintain power within the country. This outcome possibly leads to further violence or prevent the victims from achieving reconciliation. The most formidable problem associated with transitional justice is the fact that many cases of mass violence do not come to trial.
An infamous large-scale, armed conflict was that of Rwanda. In the 1990s, citizens that identified as Hutu supremacists attributed their economic and social oppression to Tutsi civilians. When Rwanda was colonized by Belgium, they were introduced to identity cards classifying people according to ethnicity. They considered Tutsi to be superior to Hutus, and they welcomed the idea of superiority. They enjoyed better opportunities for employment and education that their Hutu neighbors were not afforded. This gradually intensified the resentment among the Hutu population and intensified the animosity. When Belgium forfeited power in Rwanda, it was given to the Hutu and Tutsi people became scapegoats. Tutsi refugees formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front years prior to the conflict, seeking to overthrow the Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana. After several attacks and months of negotiation, a peace accord was arranged to be signed but all were not in favor of this. As Habyarimana was leaving via flight to sign the peace accord, his plane was shot down initiating a 100-day genocide. Hutu people were encouraged by soldiers and police to murder their Tutsi neighbors. These Hutu supremacists felt the only way to ensure that power remained in the hands of Hutu people was to eliminate the Tutsi population total. Up to one million people, about 500,000 being Tutsi, were killed. The genocide ended as the RPF captured the capital causing its Hutu enemies to flee.
Transitional justice is considered successful in this case. Although violence was utilized to reach a solution, the RPF successfully removed those from power who condoned these atrocious acts of hate and eventually managed to unify the country. The mechanisms employed in the case of Rwanda includes criminal prosecution. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established in 1994. About 90 people were indicted for their role in the genocide.

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