'It is only when the truth has been told that real reconciliation will begin'. Dr Dennis Bright, Commission for the Consolidation of Peace, explores the benefits and challenges of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone.
Dr Dennis Bright of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace gave this speech at the National Workshop on the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Legislation requires the TRC to create an impartial historical record of violations of human rights related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone.
Dr Bright emphasises the need to communicate information about the TRC to the public clearly so that they understand its objectives and benefits. The people of Sierra Leone are exhausted by years of violence and want peace, but the TRC needs to offer everyone the opportunity to hear and tell the 'truth' for the full benefits to be realised. Frustration with justice can lead to further military action.
Concerns have been raised by civil society about the proposed 'Special Court' and its negative effect on disarmament if the country bows to international pressure and threatens the prosecution of individuals too early.