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September 2010 - TRC Dissemination Seminar in Sierra Leone and Liberia

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WANEP and NPI-Africa conducted enhanced Dissemination Seminars in Sierra Leone on the 26th August, and 1st September 2010 in Liberia. This has been to share the findings of the research conducted in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa; discuss the implications of the research for Sierra Leone and Liberian’s transitional justice agenda – while identifying gaps for further research. The dissemination seminar was able reach specific audiences, including policy makers, academic community, civil society and presumed beneficiaries of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Priority was given to sample of target audiences who actively participated in the research process through Focus Group Discussion and one-on-one interview in Sierra Leone and Liberia since 2007. The former Chairman of the Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Bishop, Victor Humper, and Cllr Jerome Verdier, the former Chairman of the recently concluded Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia provided keynote addresses that set the tone for intensive debates in both countries.

Resource Persons and Participants of the Dissemination Seminar in Sierra Leone, August 26th, 2010

In 2007 and 2009, NPI-Africa and the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) collaborated in a major International Development Research Centre (IDRC)-funded research on transitional justice and the role of truth commissions in Africa. The Project, entitled ‘Transitional Justice Experiences and the Rise of TRC model in Africa; Emerging Lessons and Implications for Post-Accord Societies’ sought to draw out lessons and questions emerging from transitional justice experiences in Africa, and in particular the increasing use of the TRC as the preferred transitional justice approach. The research examined retrospectively three countries that have concluded their TRCs or equivalents (Ghana, Sierra Leone and South Africa), one that was in the process of implementing (Liberia) and one that is considering setting up TJRCs (Kenya). The research focused on the people’s expectations and perceptions of Truth Commissions and their capacity to deliver on truth, justice and reconciliation. The research raises significant lessons and questions that need to be brought to bear on new Truth Commission processes.

NPI-Africa and WANEP were keen that the findings of this ground-breaking research will inform public debates and policies on Transitional Justice in general and TRCs in particular. Local Transitional Justice experts and international agencies including representatives of the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and UNDP were provided the space to make thematic analysis, critical comments, clarifications and objective criticisms on the research findings, as they were presented by the team of researchers from WANEP and NPI-Africa. In the process, impacts of the TRC on the current transitional justice impact on socio-political landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia were examined with a view to identifying gaps, lessons learnt, and the extent to which these lessons and experiences could be documented and cross-fertilise to inform future transitional justice initiatives elsewhere.

Already, as a result of this research, NPI-Africa and WANEP have contributed to the public debate and the formulation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) being set up in Kenya. In order to contribute to the TJRC currently being set up in Togo, the two organizations have already organized dissemination seminar and consultation from 22-23 June, 2009 in Lomè, under the title Transition Justice and the Role of Truth Commission in Africa: Lessons and Implications for Togo. The dissemination Seminar also held in Liberia on the 1st September 2010, made special provision for two Commissioner, including the Chairperson of the Togolese Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commissioners to be able to replicate lessons learnt from Liberia.