Truth commissions are widely recognised tools used in negotiation following political repression. Their work may be underpinned by formal scientific investigation of human remains. This paper presents an analysis of the role of forensic investigations in the transition to democracy following the Brazilian military governments of 1964–85. It considers practices during the dictatorship and in the period following, making reference to analyses of truth commission work in jurisdictions other than Brazil, including those in which the investigation of clandestine burials has taken place. Attempts to conceal the fate of victims during the dictatorship, and the attempts of democratic governments to investigate them are described. Despite various initiatives since the end of the military government, many victims remain unidentified. In Brazil, as elsewhere, forensic investigations are susceptible to political and social influences, leading to a situation in which relatives struggle to obtain meaningful restitution and have little trust in the transitional justice process.
evidence and available information. Gacaca trials would take place not with evidence gathered by police and judicial authorities but through the testimonials of perpetrators, victims and bystanders during the trials. The discursive encounter in the gacaca sessions would function as the catalyst for the transitional justice process. Overall, the changes made the gacaca courts into a judicial body guided by state law and thus imposed a specific expressive convention on the gacaca process. The design of the court system infused the gacaca assemblage with a
In the aftermath of conflict and gross human rights violations, victims have a right to know what happened to their loved ones. Such a right is compromised if mass graves are not adequately protected to preserve evidence, facilitate identification and repatriation of the dead and enable a full and effective investigation to be conducted. Despite guidelines for investigations of the missing, and legal obligations under international law, it is not expressly clear how these mass graves are best legally protected and by whom. This article asks why, to date, there are no unified mass-grave protection guidelines that could serve as a model for states, authorities or international bodies when faced with gross human rights violations or armed conflicts resulting in mass graves. The paper suggests a practical agenda for working towards a more comprehensive set of legal guidelines to protect mass graves.
This article will describe the contemporary scientific techniques used to excavate and identify the dead bodies of disappeared detainees from the Uruguayan dictatorship. It will highlight the developments that have led to increased success by forensic anthropologists and archaeologists in uncovering human remains, as well as their effects, both social and political, on promoting the right to the truth and mechanisms of transitional justice.
This article presents an account of the involvement of forensic anthropology in the investigation of human rights abuses in the modern era, and the difficulties it faces with respect to lack of adequate funding, volatile settings, the presence of unexploded ordnance, corruption in governmental agencies and a lack of good will, absence of support for NGOs and the curtailment of formal judicial proceedings to effect transitional justice. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, Mexico and the Northern Triangle are provided as regional examples of the problems encountered when attempting to conduct forensic anthropological investigations to locate mass graves, retrieve victims and obtain proper identifications. Interventions by various organisations are highlighted to illustrate their assistance to forensic and non-forensic individuals through technical support, training and mentoring in the areas of crime-scene management and identification techniques. Interventions in mass-grave processing when state agencies have failed, the importance of DNA banks and information from family members and witnesses are also presented.
, K. ( 2016 ), When No One Calls It Rape: Addressing Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Transitional Contexts , International Center for Transitional Justice , www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ_Report_SexualViolenceMen_2016.pdf (accessed 5 September 2018 ). Lewis , D. A. ( 2009
’une institution critique ( Paris : Dalloz ). Riaño-Alcalá , P. and Baines , E. ( 2011 ), ‘ The Archive in the Witness: Documentation in Settings of Chronic Insecurity ’, International Journal of Transitional Justice , 5 : 3 , 412 – 33
79 2 Between law and violence: towards a re-thinking of legal justice in transitional justice contexts María del Rosario Acosta López In the already extensive literature connecting philosophy and law, there is a long tradition of framing this encounter in terms of what I will provisionally call a “negative critique.” As it is clear in Walter Benjamin’s canonical essay, a philosophical critical perspective seems to be capable of bringing to light the main paradox at the core of the law, namely, that its foundation coincides with its violence. Violence exists
8 Identification, politics, disciplines: missing persons and colonial skeletons in South Africa1 Nicky Rousseau Locating, exhuming, and identifying human remains associated with mass violence and genocide has come to occupy an important place in the panoply of transitional justice measures. Although such work cuts across the core transitional justice issues of justice, reparation and truth-telling, it has received surprisingly little critical attention from within the transitional justice field.2 Existing studies, with some exception, can be characterized by
transitional justice is possible, corpses may be used in the service of re-moralizing post-conflict society, whether evidentially in forensic settings, or symbolically in commemorative rituals and sites. In societies that experience no or inadequate transitional justice, the absence or attentional neglect of the corpse may act as a focal point for continued and contested moral discourse, often many years after the original conflict. This brief sketch has been intended to make two points: first, that all serious crime entails significant moral–emotional ‘work’, both in the