Seminar: Dialogue is a Condition to Transitional Justice

The Bahrain Human Rights Society has organized a seminar on transitional Justice entitled ‘Truth Commissions: the Prospects, Stakes and Challenges in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf’. Several international and regional organizations as well as a number of local civil society institutions participated in the event. The participants included the International Federation for Human Rights, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, No Peace without Justice, Front Line, the Arab Institute for Human Rights, the Arab Democracy Foundation (Qatar) and Al-Kawakibi Democratic Transition Centre, among others.

Mr. Idris Alyazmi, Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights, said that there is no ready-made example of transitional Justice that can be adopted, but there is an international heritage which can be beneficial, adding that the philosophy of transitional justice is based on finding a peaceful political means to overcome deep political crisis through the study of political history and huge violations against victims and to compensate them, both individually and collectively. Also, to develop recommendations for agreed political reforms and political consensus, as well as studying the political history of the country in question.

Leen Ma’loof, a member of the International Centre for Transitional Justice stressed that what all countries have in common with regards to transitional justice is confronting the past in order to move on to the future. This is because democracy cannot be established on lies and victims of previous violations cannot ignore what happened to them. As for Niyam Jeyponis, a member of 'No Peace without Justice', she stated that it was crucial that transitional justice committees determine their aims and make realistic decisions, which take into consideration the political and economic dimensions specific to each country.

The Secretary-General of the Arab Democracy Foundation, Muhsin Marzooq, showed a great interest in establishing a specialized centre for transitional justice and democratization issues, adding that ‘we are committed to supporting transitional justice in any Arab country. However, the Foundation has singled out Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and Lebanon as their priority.’ In the meantime Salwa Qantari, a member of the Kawakibi Democratic Transition Centre, stressed that the support of transitional tools and methods is one of the most important elements which helps peaceful democratic transition.

Finally, the President of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, Abd Allah Drazi, stated that ‘it is not possible to begin the transitional justice initiative without the support of the political leadership’. He expressed his hope that the political leadership will be the one responsible for a serious transitional justice initiative, adding that a number of victims of previous violations have resorted to the Judiciary, but the courts have so far refused to look into their cases.