Post-transitional truth and justice in Peru and Northern Ireland
Chatham House Latin America & the Caribbean Research Project and the Peru Support Group.
This meeting will be held under the Chatham House Rule.
Peru's long period of political violence, catalysed by clashes between the extremist Shining Path guerilla movement and a militarised, autocratic state, claimed around 70,000 lives between 1980 and 2000. The Andean nation went on to carry out an exhaustive and innovative investigation into the period. Specially-appointed Truth Commissioners toured the country in an effort to comprehend the deep ethnic, racial, class and community faultlines underlying the violence. Testimony from thousands of survivors, relatives and others documented how one country's 'war on terror' quickly spiralled out of control, unleashing indiscriminate violence against defenceless peasant communities in the Andean highlands. The Peruvian Truth Commission, reporting in 2003, was unique amongst previous such instances in Latin America in recommending prosecution rather than amnesty for perpetrators, and community-level rather than individual reparations for those caught in the crossfire. Three years on, this meeting will consider how recent political changes in Peru affect prospects for implementation of the Commission's recommendations on truth, justice and reconciliation.
Northern Ireland's own peace process is meanwhile at an advanced but nonetheless uncertain stage with continuing stalemate over the future of the Northern Ireland Assembly, created as one outcome of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The idea that some kind of truth process will eventually be required to address the legacy of political and sectarian violence and repression seems to be gaining ground, although the issue of possible justice measures or amnesty for perpetrators remains controversial. Civil society groups in the region continue to lobby for truth and justice matters to be placed on the public agenda, and as in Latin America, relatives of those caught up in the violence have often led the way. How might the issues of truth, justice and reconciliation in the region be handled? Can anything be learnt from Latin American experiences?