Transitional Justice Awareness Workshops Conducted as Public Platforms to Address Past Injustice
Yemen’s Ministry of Legal Affairs (MoLA), in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), continues its efforts to support transitional justice in Yemen by conducting four educational workshops in four governorates. During November and December 2013, four two-day civic education workshops have been organized on topics of transitional justice and national reconciliation in Hodaidah, Taiz, Aden and Mukalla. These events came after the first similar conference in Sana’a. The workshops aimed at assisting Yemeni citizens to understand the concept of transitional justice and its mechanisms, to give them opportunity to highlight and diagnose the most important social, political and institutional obstacles relevant to transitional justice and how to overcome them to achieve national reconciliation.
In a transparent atmosphere during the workshops’ discussion, around 500 participants from various levels of Government of Yemen (GoY), human rights activists, religious and tribal leaders, journalists, intellectuals, as well as representatives of victims’ associations, marginalized, youth and women groups have agreed on eight main points to be enforced to support Transitional Justice. The first recommendation is to organize a national wide transitional justice awareness campaign in order to assist citizens to understand the concept of transitional justice and how to achieve their rights. The establishment of Truth Commission, Commission of Inquiry into the violation of 2011 and Human Rights independent body is a prerequisite for transitional justice processes and it is more important that these bodies are led appropriate leadership. The efforts of the Land and Dismissals Commissions based in Aden should be supported. The state should design reparations programme, with special focus on compensations. Other measures such as restitution and rehabilitation should be also developed. The right of Remembrance to Suffering needs to be protected. Memorialization policy should endorse the lessons learned from the past in order to ensure that are note repeated again in the Yemeni society. Perpetrators should be held accountable for serious crimes, as this is part of the objectives of the Transitional Justice. The country’s laws should be consistent to the international human rights laws and conventions which also leading to reforming of the security institutions and particularly the judicial sectors.
“Defined recommendations to help the Ministry of Legal Affairs to structure appropriate strategy to meet expectations of the citizens”, The Minister of Legal Affairs Mohammed Al-Mekhlafi says. He added that the workshops clearly showed that open discussion between representatives of the Government of Yemen and civil society to reach common ground of sensitive political issues was possible in Yemen and would lead to achieving national reconciliation.
The UNDP's Acting Resident Representative, Mahamed Hassen stressed that societal dialogue about the past has legitimized transitional justice process and contributed to achieving requirements of November 2011 political agreement. Involving representatives of Government and civil society in the discussions to address the injustice of the past helps in overcoming sectarian and regional divide and generating understanding between various societal groups that will further contribute to achieving lasting peace, he added.
In the coming months, the Ministry of Local Administration, UNDP and OHCHR will continue organizing civic education and consultative activities focusing on all local communities and engaging CSOs in project implementation for the purpose of including wider society in discussions on the future of Yemen and achieving national reconciliation.
The Transitional Justice Project assists Yemeni society in achieving national reconciliation by establishing values of tolerance and dialogue, encouraging citizens to live peacefully and enhancing the CSOs to play a vital role in advancing just society, marked by justice, equality, human rights protection and rule of law.
Mr. Dragan Popovic, Chief Technical Advisor-Transitional Justice,
Support to the Implementation of Transitional Justice in Yemen, UNDP-Yemen.
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Ministry of Legal Affairs
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