The term ’transitional justice’ refers to the full range of processes and mechanisms aimed at serving justice during a period of transition of a people group, such as following a war or the fall of an authoritarian regime. Transitional justice is worked out in the steps taken by transitional communities and governments so that the tyranny that has given rise to so many victims of assassinations, torture, kidnapping, rape, and other abuses and atrocities that befall humanity as a result of political or racial or religious difference, do not persist, and which likewise brings to a halt the tendency to monopoly of governance by dictatorial leaders such as in Syria currently.
The formal judicial system, along with its associated bodies as well as civil society organisations participate in implementing transitional justice. The focus is on conducting investigations into violations, issuing reports on reparation of harm; both material and non material, working for reconciliation, diffusing crises, compensating the victims, and reforming the institutions that played a role in committing the violations, which normally comprise the army, the police, the security services and the legal system. It will be necessary to radically reform the ideology of the Syrian army after the fall of the regime, whereby it’s loyalty is to the state and not to a oppressive ruler.
The concept of social justice is based around non impunity for criminals and ensuring material and symbolic reparation for victims. Symbolic reparation focuses on commemorating the victims, taking care of their families, and condemning the violations and those who perpetrated them.
Activists who are interested in and aspire to work in the field of transitional justice, and especially in Syria, can focus on a number of theoretical documents to add to their comprehension and knowledge of the subject, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all that followed in terms of UN resolutions on this issue. All this comes under the title of the International Bill for Human Rights, similarly, the UN General Assembly Declaration on Transitional Justice 2006, and the Rome Statute System that came into force in 2002.
Those who are working to implement programs of transitional justice must put in place plans that take into account the advice, wherever possible, of those who have been affected, and to listen to their stories as a kind of psychological compensation. Also, these plans must be coupled with programs to strengthen values of coexistence and achieving national reconciliation, and anything that works to ease the tensions between members of different factions of society.
The founding of the International Criminal Court has had a significant impact on achieving justice on a world level; courts have been established for the massacres of Bosnia and Rwanda, and trying these war criminals has had a positive effect on the victims and their families.
Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria