Seeking Justice

Creating space to legitimize and dignify the personal experiences of victims

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Peru is one of the most recent experiences of transitional justice, institutionalized with the aim of exploring the truth hidden behind a past characterized by massive abuse of human rights. One of the central activities in this process is the Public Audiences, created with the aim of legitimizing and dignifying the personal experiences of the victims in order to support the therapeutic and recuperative work on their behalf.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Activating historic sites as centers for citizen engagement with human rights issues

Around the world, people instinctively turn to places of memory to come to terms with the past and chart a course for the future. Memory is a critical language and terrain of human rights. These places can be a powerful and critical tool for building a lasting culture of human rights. The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience works to build the capacity of historic sites around the world to foster dialogue on pressing social issues and promote democratic and humanitarian values. It seeks to change the role of historic sites in civic life from places of passive learning to centers for active citizen engagement. Using the power of place to help communities have ongoing dialogues about the meaning of their past and the shape of their future.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Organizing a large-scale petition drive to pressure the government to change

In 2002, Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power) collected signatures on a petition that, under a constitutional provi­sion, the Argentine congress was then obligated to consider. The constitutional provision requires the congress to deliberate any proposed legislation brought before it by community members or organizations, as long as that legislation bears the signatures of 1.5 percent of Argentine citizens in at least six of 24 districts.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating a network of volunteer monitors to persuade local and national governments to abide by international human rights commitments

The League of Human Rights Advocates (LHRA) in Slovakia has developed a network of volunteer human rights monitors within the minority Roma population to ensure that international human rights treaties are implement­ed at the local level. As part of its work to become a member of the European Union, Slovakia ratified a number of treaties relating to human rights and was vulnerable to criticism of their human rights record. In addition, the constitution of the Slovak Republic gives priority, over domestic laws, to international human rights treaties rati­fied and passed into law by its parliament.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using international mechanisms to apply pressure on a national government to institute policy and legal changes

The Committee for Administration of Justice (CAJ) used the United Nations Committee Against Torture to raise local human rights issues to the international level. In order to use international mechanisms such as this effectively, a number of other tactics were used including written submissions to the Committee, lobbying in Geneva and monitoring the impact the recommendations of the various Committee reports have had on Northern Ireland in terms of actually improving the human rights situation on the ground.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Action Theatre to mobilize communities for change

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) in Bangladesh works to address numerous human rights problems, including gender equality and access to justice. Their approach is to form small local Action Theatre groups, or Manobadhikar Natya Parishad (MNP), by building collaborative relationships with local non-governmental or civil society organizations, as well as with local individuals.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution to prevent the involvement of the police, who are potential abusers.

As an alternative to the criminal justice system, the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT) in Nepal has created a process of community mediation. This process keeps some people from being needlessly arrested and brought to police stations, where 60 percent of prisoners are tortured into giving confessions. CVICT conducted research on what types of disputes were occurring, then developed a training course for com­munity leaders, including women and Dalits (of the untouchable caste), on settling disputes with a rights-based community mediation method. Community mediation would be available for disputes other than violent crimes and to everyone, regardless of age, sex, class or social caste. To recruit trainers, CVICT held mass meetings in each community and asked for nominations. The trainers were then trained in human rights, local laws and methods of handling disputes. Many who were already involved in mediating disputes could build on their existing skills. These trainers then trained others at the local level.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using participatory education to empower communities to exercise their human and civil rights

Education for Life (ELF) uses an accelerated learning system approach with grassroots educators and leaders to contribute to grassroots community empowerment throughout the Philippines. They want grassroots communities to have more power to decide their development, including control of their resources. This empowerment includes the organization of people in the community and access to lifelong education. The key component is an organic grassroots leadership that can be a partner to outside institutions such as NGOs and national government agencies.

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