The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum held a workshop on 9 and 10 September 2008 which drew participations from a broad spectrum of civil society in Zimbabwe to discuss the transitional justice options for Zimbabwe. The participants of the workshop being fully committed to truth, justice, accountability and the need for sustainable peace in Zimbabwe resolved that there was need for transitional justice and set out the minimum demands for such a process.
Transitional justice generally refers to a range of approaches that states may use to address past human rights wrongs and includes both judicial and non-judicial approaches. It seeks recognition for the victims and to promote possibilities for peace, reconciliation and democracy. However such mechanisms can only be implemented in the event of a change, such as that which is likely to occur following the signing of the agreement by the political parties.
Civic society organizations at the meeting agreed that given the history of human rights abuse in pre and post independent Zimbabwe, there was need for transitional justice mechanisms which would follow these fundamental principles; victim – centered; comprehensive, inclusive, consultative participation of all stakeholders, particularly the victims; the establishment of the truth; acknowledgment; justice, compensation and reparations; national healing
and reconciliation; non-repetition (never again); gender sensitive; transparency and accountability, and nation building and reintegration.
The organizations present at the workshop, having agreed on the principles also agreed of several non-negotiable minimum demands for a transitional justice process, which include, no amnesty for crimes against humanity, torture, rape and other sexual crimes, and economic crimes such as corruption; no extinguishing of civil claims against the
perpetrators or the state; comprehensive reparations for victims of human rights violations; no-one should hold an official office who has been responsible for gross human rights violations and corruption; a credible and independent truth seeking inquiry into the conflicts of the past which holds perpetrators to account and which provides victims the
opportunity to tell their story; independent monitoring and reform of the operations and structures of the police, army, paramilitary, security coordination, administration of justice, food distribution and other organs of state involved in the implementation of the transition.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum strongly urges the government to consider establishing a transitional justice mechanism that conforms to the principles set out by civics and also to take cognizance of the minimum demand of civil society in such a process.