The Role of Judges in Dealing with the Legacies of the Past
The Global Community YILJ, Vol. 9, 2009
50 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2009
Date Written: June, 22 2009
This paper examines the role that judges can play in dealing with legacies of the past in countries emerging from armed conflict, repression and situations where serious human rights violations have occurred. Criminal justice has, in some quarters, come to be denigrated for being “retributive”, and therefore unhelpful in the process of taking a country forward after the dust has settled. The author sees a serious imbalance in the sidelining of the rule of law in the current paradigm. Without wishing to romanticize the role of law or the courts, this work seeks to rebalance the discussion by bringing to light the considerable role for judges in the recalibration of a society. The author does not suggest a legal approach on its own will suffice; in fact, a purely legalistic approach to dealing with such situations is wholly inadequate. But as the international and comparative research conducted for this paper demonstrates, there is a critical role for judges in times of political change and this needs to be better utilized in order to maximize the chances of successful social change and structural reform.
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