Establishing effective national mechanisms to document the truth about the crimes.
All victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances have a right to truth.
Truth is a vital response to the crimes:
- For the direct victims to know the whole truth about the crimes they suffered and the reasons behind it, as well as have their suffering publicly acknowledged. Moreover, truth is necessary to correct any false accusations made against them in the course of the crime.
- For family members, particularly of those killed or disappeared, to find out what happened to their loved-one and to establish their whereabouts.
- For the affected society to know the circumstances surrounding and reasons that led to violations being committed to ensure that they will not be committed again, and to have their shared experiences acknowledged and preserved.
In more than 30 countries, truth commissions have been established as official, temporary, non-judicial fact-finding bodies to investigate a pattern of abuses of human rights, including the crimes, and to establish the truth. Most conclude their work with a final report containing findings of fact and recommendations.
Amnesty International campaigns for the effective establishment and functioning of truth commissions when crimes have been committed. In particular, the organization campaigns for truth commissions to take a victim-centred approach and to uphold the right of victims to obtain truth, justice and full reparation. To this end, truth commissions should:
- clarify as far as possible the facts about past human rights violations
- provide the evidence they gather to continuing and new investigations and criminal judicial proceedings
- formulate effective recommendations for providing full reparations to all the victims and their families
Truth commissions: a worldwide phenomenon
From 1974 to 2007, at least 32 truth commissions were established in 28 countries. More than half of these commissions have been established in the past ten years. Other truth commissions are also being considered.
- Argentina (National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, 1983)
- Bolivia (National Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances, 1982)
- Chad (Commission of Inquiry on the Crimes and Misappropriations Committed by the ex-President Habré, his Accomplices and/or Accessories, 1991)
- Chile (National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, 1990; National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture, 2003),
- Democratic Republic of Congo (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2003)
- Ecuador (Truth and Justice Commission, 1996; Truth Commission, 2007)
- El Salvador (Commission of Truth, 1992)
- Germany (Commission of Inquiry for the Assessment of History and Consequences of the SED Dictatorship in Germany, 1992)
- Ghana (National Reconciliation Commission, 2002)
- Grenada (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2001)
- Guatemala (Commission for the Historical Clarification of Human Rights Violations and Acts of Violence which Caused Suffering to the Guatemalan People, 1997)
- Haiti (National Commission for Truth and Justice, 1995)
- Indonesia (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2004)
- Liberia (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2005)
- Morocco (Equity and Reconciliation Commission, 2004)
- Nepal (Commission of Inquiry to Locate the Persons Disappeared during the Panchayat Period, 1990)
- Nigeria (Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, 1999)
- Panama (Truth Commission, 2001)
- Paraguay (Truth and Justice Commission, 2003)
- Peru (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2000)
- Sierra Leone (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2002)
- South Africa (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 1995)
- South Korea (Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths, 2000)
- Sri Lanka (Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal and Disappearances of Persons in Western, Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces, Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal and Disappearances of Persons in the Central, North Western, North Central and Uva Provinces and Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal and Disappearances of Persons in the Northern & Eastern Provinces, 1994)
- Timor-Leste (Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, 2002)
- Uganda (Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearance of people in Uganda, 1974 and Commission of inquiry into Violations of Human Rights, 1986)
- Uruguay (Investigative Commission on the Situation of Disappeared People and its Causes, 1985 and Peace Commission, 2000)
- Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2001)