From Nuremberg to the Haag Von Nürnberg nach den Haag Prominent Truth Commissions | From Nuremberg to the Hague

Prominent Truth Commissions

Latin America

1982 Bolivia · Comisión Nacional de Investigación de Desaparecidos (National Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances): Established on 28 October 1982 by President Hernan Siles Suazo, to investigate the disappearance of citizens during 1967–1982. The commission documented 155 cases of disappearances. It disbanded three years after its creation without issuing a final report.

1983 Argentina · Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas, CONADEP (National Commission on the Disappeared – “Nunca Más” Report): Created by President Raul Alfonsin on 16 December 1983, shortly after the end of the military dictatorship, and was headed by novelist Ernesto Sábato. The commission issued its report on 20 September 1984, and provided information on 9,000 disappearances during the 1976–1983 military rule.

1990/2003 Chile · Comisión Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliación (National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation – “Rettig Commission”): Established in 1990 by President Aylwin; issued its report in February 1991. The commission’s mandate was to look at human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance during the Pinochet regime between September 1973 and March 1990. It did not include torture or unjust imprisonment. These crimes were dealt with by another commission, the Comisión Nacional Sobre Prisón Politica y Tortura (National Commission for Political Imprisonment and Torture – “Valech Commission”), established in August 2003 by President Lagos. Its report identified 28,000 victims and found that torture had been an institutionalized practice during the military rule in Chile.

1992 El Salvador · Comisión de la Verdad Para El Salvador, CVES (Commission on the Truth for El Salvador): Mandated by the 1992 UN-brokered peace agreements ending the civil war. Its report on “serious acts of violence” since 1980 was submitted to the United Nations in 1993.

1994 Guatemala · Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico – CEH (Historical Clarification Commission): Established in 1994 as part of the peace agreements, this commission was to investigate human rights violations committed during the 36-year armed conflict. On 25 February 1999, the commission‘s final report Guatemala: Memory of Silence was presented to representatives of the Guatemalan government, the guerrillas and the UN Secretary-General. That same year, another Truth Commission, the REMHI commission, was set up by the Catholic Church in Guatemala and published its Report “Guatemala Nunca Más” (Guatemala Never Again).

1994 Haiti · Commission Nationale de Vérité et de Justice (National Truth and Justice Commission): Established in 1994 by President Aristide to investigate human rights abuses committed in connection with the bloody coup of 30 September 1991 that ousted him, the democratically elected President, for three years until September 1994.

2000/2001 Peru · Comisión de Verdad y Reconciliación – CVR (Truth and Reconciliation Commission): After the end of the Fujimori dictatorship civil society pressed the new democratic government of president Paniagua to establish a truth commission. His successor Toledo changed the name of the Commission into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its exhaustive Report was released in 2003, covering crimes committed by rebel groups and the military between 1980 and 2000.

2007 Ecuador · Comisión de la Verdad para impedir la impunidad (Truth Commission to Prevent Impunity): Established by president Correa, the Commission investigated  human rights violations under the authoritarian government of León Febres in the eighties as well as some other governments. The report was released in 2010.

Africa

1986 Uganda · Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights: Established in 1986 by President Museveni to investigate human rights violations committed under the governments of Milton Obote and dictator Idi Amin between 1962 and 1986. Its report was published in 1994.

1990 Chad · Commission d‘Enquête du Ministère Chadien de la Justice sur les Crimes du Régime de Hissène Habré (Chad Justice Ministry Commission of Inquiry into the Crimes of Hissein Habre’s Regime): The Commission investigated the human rights violations and economic crimes committed during the dictatorial rule of Hissein Habre 1982–1990. In Belgium and Senegal, there have been judicial investigations against Habré.

1995 South Africa · Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (TRC): The mandate of the most prominent of all truth commissions was part of the negotiations over the transition from the Apartheid regime towards the democratically elected government of Nelson Mandela. Established in 1995 by the South African parliament the TRC was to investigate human rights violations during the apartheid era since 1960. The commission held public hearings throughout South Africa. It also had an amnesty committee which could decide whether an accused could be granted amnesty because of the veracity of his confession.

1999 Nigeria · The Judicial Commission for the Investigation of Human Rights Violations – “Oputa Commission”: Established in 1999 by President Obasanjo to investigate human rights abuses committed between 1983 and his assumption of office on 29 May 1999. The release of the exhaustive report was delayed for two years due to pressure from those named in the document. In 2005, a coalition of domestic and international human rights organizations released the report.

2002 Sierra Leone · Truth and Reconciliation Commission: After the end of civil war an internationalized criminal court was established in Sierra Leone, and in parallel, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission was mandated to produce a report on human rights violations since the beginning of the conflict in 1991 and issue  recommendations to facilitate reconciliation and prevent a repetition of past violations. The Commission’s final report was transmitted to the President of Sierra Leone and to the United Nations in 2004.

2002 Ghana · National Reconciliation Commission: President Kufour established this commission after his election to produce a report on human rights violations between 1957 and 1993. It was published in 2005

2004 Marocco · Instance Equité et Réconciliation, IER (Organ for Equality and Reconciliation): This truth commission was established by king Mohammed VI in 1999 to inquire into the practice of forced disappearance und arbitrary detentions during the long reign of Mohammed’s father, king Hassan II. The report was published in Arabic in 2005.

2006 Liberia · Truth and Reconciliation Commission – TRC: Three years after the end of the civil war, the newly elected president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf established the TRC. It was to produce an exhaustive report on human rights violations between 1979 and 2003. The three volume report was released successively in 2008 and 2009.

Asia

1990 Nepal · Commission of Inquiry to Locate the Persons Disappeared during the Panchayat Period: After the end of the autocratic Panchayat system from 1960–1990, when the Nepalese king ruled without parliament, the new provisional government established a truth commission. It completed its work in 1991 but its report was only released in very few copies in 1994.

1994 Sri Lanka · Commissions of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal or Disappearance of Persons: In 1994 President Bandaranaike appointed three regional truth commissions, and another one for the whole island of Sri Lanka. Their mandates were to investigate the fate of “disappeared” persons between 1988 and 1994. The regional commissions presented a report in 1988, the national commission in 2002. Crimes committed after 1994 have not yet been investigated until the creation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission by President Rajapaksa in 2010. It submitted its report in May, 2011. The commission was widely criticized for failing to meet international standards of institutional independence and witness protection among other issues.

2000 South Korea · Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths
The commission established by President Kim Dae-Jung was to investigate the deaths of citizens during the dictatorial regimes in South Korea between 1975 and 1987. The Commission’s Report of about 3,000 pages was released in 2003.

2001 East Timor · Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação de Timor-Leste, CAVR (Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation): Established in 2001 by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor with the mandate of investigating human rights violations committed between 1974 – when the fight for independence began – and 1999. It is estimated that 200,000 people were killed during this period. The CAVR was also given the task of facilitating the reconciliation and reintegration of minor offenders and of recommending measures to prevent future abuses. Its 2500 page report was released in 2005.

2005 Indonesia/East Timor · Kommisaun Verdade no Amizade CVA (Commission for Truth and Friendship): After the release of the very critical report of the CAVR, whose findings were rejected by Indonesia, the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia agreed to establish another commission, the Commission of Truth and Friendship, in order to calm tense bilateral relations. This bilateral commission issued its report in July 2008 and again acknowledged that the Indonesian military and police bore grave responsibility for crimes during the independence struggle. Its recommendations, however, were limited to declarations of apology by Indonesia. Both governments accepted this report.

Europe

1992 Germany · Enquête-Kommission des 12. Deutschen Bundestages “Zur Aufarbeitung von Geschichte und Folgen der SED-Diktatur in Deutschland” (Study Commission for Working Through the History and the Consequences of the SED Dictatorship in Germany): The Study Commission was established by a resolution of the German Federal Parliament to investigate the practices of the SED regime between 1949 and 1989. Its head was the former GDR dissenter and then Christian Democrat Parliamentarian Rainer Eppelmann. The Commission’s extensive report, including an exhaustive documentary annex, was published in 1994. In 1995, a second commission (“Study Commission for the Overcoming of the Consequences of the SED Dictatorship in the Process of German Unity”) was established, in order to investigate issues not covered by the first commission. Its work ended in 1998.

2002 Serbia/Montenegro · Komisija za istinu i pomirenje (Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Serbia and Montenegro, or Yugoslav Truth and Reconciliation Commission): Established by president Kostunica, the Commission was mandated to research the ethnic and inter-communal conflicts in the former Yugoslavia since 1980. Due to lack of agreement on essential aspects of the mandate, the commission disbanded in 2003 without producing a report.

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