Kenya: Involve victims to prevent conflicts, Great Lakes Region told

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - As Burundi and South Sudan teeter on the verge of renewed conflict, with warnings of possible genocides, governments in the region should involve victims in preventing conflicts, according to a report released Tuesday.

A new report from the International Center for Transitional Justice on the African Great Lakes region asserts that there are lessons to be learned from neighboring countries that may be relevant in preventing new conflicts.

The report calls for a clear understanding of victims’ needs and demands, a thorough political analysis, identifying realistic opportunities for acknowledgment and accountability.

Also, there is need for supporting domestic ownership of the process, and facilitating interactions among the state, victims, and civil society.

The report, titled "Victims Fighting Impunity: Transitional Justice in the African Great Lakes Region", draws on lessons learned from ICTJ’s more than 11 years of working on justice issues in Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In those countries, processes are still underway to deal with painful periods of widespread human rights abuses — and the threat of renewed violence, particularly around elections.

“Given the interconnectedness of violence in the region, each country’s attempt to provide justice for past violations provides lessons for similar processes in others,” said Kasande Sarah Kihika, co-author of the report and ICTJ’s Head of Office in Uganda.

“Civil society and government must work together within and across countries to end the cycles of violence that destabilize the region and to materialize victim’s rights to justice, truth, and reparation.”

Because impunity often has a direct impact on, the report underscores the need to recognize victims’ rights as a necessary element of building sustainable peace.

It also emphasizes the value of involving civil society and victims’ groups from the outset in designing effective and practical strategies to deal with the past, including in peace agreements and national laws and policies.

“The reality is that too often, the agreements and policies that have helped end conflicts in these countries include very complicated and ambitious commitments regarding justice that are unlikely to be fully implemented," she said.

The main impediments to the agreement tend to be either the country lacks the capacity or because the political will isn’t there, she added.

As the report explains, many of the justice commitments agreed to in Uganda, Kenya, and the DRC to end their conflicts over the last decade have only been partially implemented — or even forgotten.

The report notes that nearly all of the states that make up the Great Lakes Region have in recent years experienced political strife and armed conflict.

The conflicts have led to severe humanitarian consequences, including gross violations of human rights, mass displacement of populations, and unprecedented levels of sexual violence and gender-based crimes.

The International Center for Transitional Justice works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse.

It seeks holistic solutions to promote accountability and create just and peaceful societies.
-0- PANA DJ/VAO 28March2017

28 march 2017 15:48:04

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