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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-82
JournalJournal of Latin American Studies
Issue number1
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished online - 30 Aug 2016


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


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