Truth-justice-reparations interaction effects in transitional justice practice: The case of the ‘Valech Commission’ in Chile

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Abstract

Recent thinking and practice in transitional justice suggest that victims and societies hold indivisible, perhaps even simultaneous, rights to truth, justice and reparations after gross human rights violations. This paper analyses the advantages and drawbacks of such holistic approaches totransitional justice, through a case study of Chile’s second official truth commission, the ‘ValechCommission’. The paper illustrates the politics of ongoing contestation about authoritarian era crimes in Latin America, showing how and why the commission was designed to deliver on certaintruth and reparations obligations toward survivors of past state repression, while attempting toexplicitly decouple truth revelations from judicial consequences. It also discusses the implicationsof associating truthtelling and reparations in a single instance, and in doing so contributes todebate about the potentially contradictory or counterproductive outcomes that may arise fromthe yoking together of truth, justice and reparations functions in transitional justice policy design.
LanguageEnglish
Pages55-82
JournalJournal of Latin American Studies
Volume49
Issue number1
Early online date30 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Aug 2016

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reparations
Chile
justice
interaction
human rights violation
holistic approach
repression
Latin America
obligation
offense
politics
society

Keywords

  • truth commissions
  • Valech
  • Chile
  • transitional justice
  • reparations

Cite this

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abstract = "Recent thinking and practice in transitional justice suggest that victims and societies hold indivisible, perhaps even simultaneous, rights to truth, justice and reparations after gross human rights violations. This paper analyses the advantages and drawbacks of such holistic approaches totransitional justice, through a case study of Chile’s second official truth commission, the ‘ValechCommission’. The paper illustrates the politics of ongoing contestation about authoritarian era crimes in Latin America, showing how and why the commission was designed to deliver on certaintruth and reparations obligations toward survivors of past state repression, while attempting toexplicitly decouple truth revelations from judicial consequences. It also discusses the implicationsof associating truthtelling and reparations in a single instance, and in doing so contributes todebate about the potentially contradictory or counterproductive outcomes that may arise fromthe yoking together of truth, justice and reparations functions in transitional justice policy design.",
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