From 4 – 6 October 2012, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) hosted an International Conference on Transitional Justice in Zimbabwe. Sixty delegates ranging from a cross section of Zimbabwean society including civil society organisations, political parties, government departments, churches, farmers’ organisations, labour, development partners and academics took part in the event which was held at the Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga, Manicaland province.
Presentations by experts discussing the problems and experiences faced in developing transitional justice solutions were made on Germany, Kenya, Liberia, the Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The conference provided a means to foster dialogue and establish long-term working relationships among stakeholders. It also provided the basis for re-orienting the practice of transitional justice with inclusion of other stakeholders following on from the symposium on Civil Society and Justice in Zimbabwe held from 11 – 13 August 2003 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The conference was driven by three specific objectives:
i. To enable stakeholders from a cross-section of the Zimbabwean community to define the way forward for transitional justice in Zimbabwe,
ii. To enhance the knowledge of Zimbabwe’s policy makers on other countries’ strategies on how to address transitional justice issues in a holistic manner; and,
iii. To gain a better understanding of how specific transitional justice issues are dealt with using relevant experiences from other countries.
The International Conference on Transitional Justice in Zimbabwe which was inclusive took advantage of the expertise and experience of all stakeholders as well as involving the participants and agreed on the following action points:
1. The establishment of a Transitional Justice National Working Group, whose framework should include work on structures to implement various recommendations on transitional justice. The leadership of the working group should be chosen through a transparent public process considering the importance of objectivity, integrity and credibility;
2. Research, Documentation and Archiving. The need for a coordinated approach to research, documentation and archiving of information among various actors. Focus should be put into retrieval of information through an established credible body, to collect information from all actors carrying out documentation, standardise the process of documenting violations to make the data useful for history, prosecutorial and educational purposes;
3. Advocacy for Policy and Legislation. Stakeholders should work towards building political will, engaging all actors and to customise the transitional justice process to meet the nature of Zimbabwe’s unique context;
5. Rehabilitation of survivors. Reparations/compensation (both individual and societal/collective) is a factor that needs attention, with specific attention to women and children. A clear protection mechanism for witnesses and survivors must be developed in order to build the confidence and participation of both survivors and alleged perpetrators.
6. Institutional Reform. Reform of institutions such as the media and the security sector is critical for transitional justice. A mechanism must be put in place to provide for continued monitoring of institutions.
The Forum believes that Zimbabweans must continue with this dialogue on transitional justice and reach out widely in the search for sustainable peace. Designing a future in which everyone is secure, is a process that requires the participation of all.