Solomon Berewa, Attorney General and Minister of Justice:
We as a government are criticised quite heavily, and, I believe quite justifiably, for granting what has been called a blanket amnesty to those who caused what has been described in various quarters as the worst types of human rights violations. In doing that, we are more or less denying the victims of those violations any form of justice or redress. So the TRC was provided for in the agreement as a very weak way of addressing the issue of impunity.
The good thing about (the TRC) is that it is more a religious matter than a legal or political matter. It is our conviction, based purely from our own local settings and our individual religious beliefs, that if somebody wrongs you or does you anything harmful and he comes forward and owns up to it, that would bring some element of degradation to him and, in the process, it might chasten him. It will also bring some element of comfort to the victim.
If there is anything like innocent persons, they are the war victims. They did not create any situation which led to the war. There is no basis for inflicting the type of injury on them which they suffered.
In a situation like the TRC, the one thing that we do not want to appear, or even to be thought of, is the word vengeance. Forgiveness is the direct opposite of vengeance. So obviously, we are talking of truth and reconciliation where we want to bring people together after one has done wrong to the other. Even in law, if you do anything because of vengeance, whatever justification you have had initially, you lose that justification immediately. Justice implies trying to make some form of amends for some wrong done to the victim. The only justice the victim would have here is the satisfaction that he has come to know who caused the injury to him, whatever reasons he might have had, but above all, the request for forgiveness. And if the victim is satisfied with the manner of asking for forgiveness and he grants forgiveness, then that will be justice, and, in the process, reconciliation would come.