It puts the searchlight on the term “justice”.
What is this elephant in the room called justice: might is right? Punishment for the unjust and reward for the just? Equality Or equal treatment? Rule of law? Rights and liberty? Utilitarianism or ” the greatest happiness of the greatest number? Contractualism as propounded by John Rawls? What?
What is “justice” within the realm of our TRRC
process which, either by design or chance, didn’t have “justice” in its name? Would justice come about naturally when truth is set free in full by perpetrators, when perpetrators genuinely atoned for their sins and victims accept and reconciled with the perpetrators and when rights damaged are restored through reparation, compensation, and other means?”
Do we have a common, nay national, understanding and consensus on how justice would be served through our TRRC process? By victims, families of victims, perpetrators, families of perpetrators and the rest of us? “Never Again” could only be etched in psyche and systems if “justice” is served,.whatever is meant by “justice”…
I don’t envy the Minister of Justice and the load he carries, maintaining the balance between the rights of victims and that of perpetrators, between the greater good and what is perceived to be justice, between the “truth shall set you free” and “Never Again”. The juggling can be both dangerous and treacherous, especially that it is about competing interests, about hurts, deep wounds, lost lives, emotions, betrayals, lies uncovered, brutality, tortures and justice and rights.
While I ponder about justice, the end of justice, and the end the TRRC process is expected serve, i think that justice’s best friend is the ‘rule of law” which we must observe even if we have to hold our noses. We cannot, like Roper in “A Man for All Seasons”, “cut a great road through the law get after the Devil”. Because when we do so and the Devil turns round on us, we may not have any where to hide “the laws all being flat”. Like Sir Thomas More, I would also give the Devil the “benefit of law for my own safety’s sake”
We say it everyday that “let justice guide our actions, towards the common good”. What actions? Whose actions? What common good? Who decides the common good? What Good?
About justice, let me parody Churchill: “I cannot tell you what end justice or the TRRC should serve. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Gambia’s national interest.”