Professor Colleen Murphy recently authored a blog post for Just Security, which is based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. An excerpt follows:
The nation-wide protests sparked by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and led by the Black Lives Matter movement, demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. To meet these demands, the United States needs to pursue transitional justice. Transitional justice entails dealing with wrongdoing – past and present – in order to transform the relationships among citizens and between citizens and state officials.
Though the term transitional justice is not widely known in the United States, elsewhere dozens of societies with long histories of crippling political dysfunction, repression and/or, periods of prolonged violence have established processes of transitional justice to deal with past wrongs as part of a transition away from conflict and repression.
For example, South Africa, as part of its transition from apartheid to democracy, established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate and document apartheid-era killing, abduction, torture and severe ill-treatment. Colombia is presently implementing a comprehensive transitional justice system, as required by the terms of the Final Agreement ending more than fifty years of conflict between the Colombian government and the rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Colombian system includes a truth commission, a set of judicial bodies to investigate gross violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and a unit to search for those deemed missing during the conflict. South Africa and Colombia are but two examples. Processes of transitional justice can take many forms, from institutional reform to criminal trials, truth commissions, reparations, and memorials.
Read the full post at justsecurity.org.