Bulawayo will next week host a major Transitional Justice Policy Symposium as civil society reflects on the next important steps for national healing in Zimbabwe, human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama has revealed.
Speaking to the press on Monday 12 November 2018, Muchadehama said the policy indaba, which is hosted by the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG), in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is major step in seeking collective solutions to the Zimbabwe’s continuing legacy of violence.
Muchadehama said that the Symposium is a result of the realization Zimbabwe needs to adopt a transitional justice policy to deal with its legacy of violence and put in place mechanisms for non-recurrence.
“We are faced with a situation where we have resort to make shift measures like the Montlante Commission to resolve deep seated issues.’ Said Muchadehama. “A transitional justice policy would ensure that there are adequate permanent measures for addressing the legacy of violence and holding perpetrators to account.”
In a statement released to the delegates, the NTJWG noted that while institutions like the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) are a step in the right direction, they lack policy support from government which is why such institutions are sometimes sidelined, or even sacrificed because there are no support measures to strengthen and support its mandate.
Muchadehama said that the symposium would seek to craft a mechanisms to ensure that the issue of peace and reconciliation is a truly national issue in character to which every entity has a role to play.
Scheduled to run from 21 to 23 November, the symposium is bringing experts from Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Switzerland, South Africa and Zimbabwe who has experience is areas like truth seeking, justice and accountability, trauma healing, archival and documentation as well as developing memory projects.
These are various measures known as transitional justice and various societies make use of these measures to drive national healing and reconciliation and ensure non-recurrence of violence.
The NTJWG has been leading the civil society campaign for the operationalization, effectiveness and independence of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). The group this week warned government not to interfere with the NPRC’s recruitment process. In a briefing paper published in a local publication, the NTJWG said ‘the competence and independence of the Secretariat of the NPRC is critical to the credibility of Commission itself.’
Muchadehama said that some sessions of the symposium will look at how civil society can support independent commissions in their mandate.
“Independent commissions have a major role to play in ensuring justice for victims.” Muchadehama said, “But beyond individual remedies for victims, we have a duty asa society to say, Never Again to violence and stand in solidarity with those affected by violence.” he added.