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Title: A study of the mechanisms and effects of Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on democratic governance
Author: Ajetunmobi, Abdulsalam Olatubosun
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 3358
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis studies the mechanisms and effects of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SLTRC), a fact-finding commission. Sierra Leone went through an eleven-year internecine civil conflict, characterised by gross violations human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law against individuals and communities unparalleled in scope and ferocity in Sub-Saharan Africa. In a bid to investigate and determine responsibility for these violations, and examine their root causes, the SLTRC was established in 2002 as part of a transitional arrangement in which the pursuit of peace was to be linked with the consolidation of democratic gains and socioeconomic recovery. Sierra Leone’s experience in the aftermath of the armed conflict was a mixture of restorative transitional justice and retributive justice mechanisms: the SLTRC was complemented by a criminal tribunal, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which was established to try those who bore the greatest responsibility in the 11-year armed conflict. This combination of the two institutions, which was novel at the time, made the SLTRC a specially interesting commission to study. Furthermore, unlike any previous truth commission before it, especially in Africa, the SLTRC also had an international dimension, involving the participation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose Office helped with the fundraising and administrative work. In contrast to any previous truth commission, SLTRC was given power to make mandatory recommendations, committing the Government of Sierra Leone in advance to implement all its recommendations, and in addition requiring it to submit a quarterly report on the progress of the implementation of these measures to a statutorily established monitoring team, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone. Given the above characteristics of SLTRC, coupled also with personal connection to Sierra Leone - many Nigerians have settled in Sierra Leone; and, Nigeria played a crucial role, both militarily and financially, in bringing stability to Sierra Leone - the study of SLTRC had for me both an academic and a personal imperative. It also satisfied a personal desire to explore a blueprint for countries intending to establish truth commission in future, in the aftermath of an armed conflict or repressive rule. Because the SLTRC is emblematic of a typical truth commission, prefatory discussions of underlying principles were undertaken first, to provide the framework for the assessment of the impact of SLTRC. In a nutshell, the thesis consists of two parts: first, a critical analysis of the defining characteristics, structure, processes, and legal basis of a truth commission, including a discussion on the relationship between a truth commission and the retributive notion of criminal and civil prosecutions. The SLTRC remains a focus throughout these discussions. Part II involves data analysis triangulation of the effects of the SLTRC's recommended measures on the democratic participation of civil society and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and also on the question of reparations for the victims of the Sierra Leonean conflict since the end of its operation. This analysis incorporates judgments and interpretations of data taken from diverse sources. The evidence supports a conclusion that the SLTRC contributed positively to fulfilling its intended goals of addressing past crimes, furthering reconciliation and fostering institutional reforms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available