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The Legacy of Crimes and Crises

Transitional Justice, Domestic Change and the Role of the International Community


Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Dorota Heidrich

The book shows how transitional justice experiences influence domestic change and what the role of the international community in these processes is. It is divided into three thematic parts. The first one presents regional and local transitional justice efforts, aiming at showing different mechanisms implemented within transitional justice mechanisms. The following part deals with the role and impact of international criminal tribunals set up to prosecute grave human rights abuses. The third part is devoted to the role of the international community in mass atrocity crimes prevention. The contributions prove that transitional justice measures are not universal. Rather, they must be characterized by the principle of local ownership and be crafted to circumstances on the ground.
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In 2011 protesters, outraged by the suicide of a petty trader in Tunis, took to the streets of Tunisia and ousted Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who had run the country as a dictator. The protests opened the doors to the first and so far only success of the Arab Spring. After the formation of several interim governments and a number of violent incidents and political assassinations, the country held successful and peaceful elections, approved a new constitution and elected a president. By then, it had already come under the pressure of various groups, which lobbied for contradicting requests and demands. There were victims’ organizations, which, as usual after a transition, demanded justice, understood as retribution against the perpetrators of past Human Rights abuses and compensation for themselves. There were groups urging for bringing to justice policemen, since the police were regarded as instrumental in carrying out the repressions against protesters prior to Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s escape to Saudi Arabia. But there were also groups that deplored the dire state of public security under the conditions of a disorganized, widely despised and disoriented police force. Political parties linked to the (mostly exiled) opposition against Ben Ali urged for the screening and vetting of public employees, in order to cut off elite bonds between the ancien regime and the new order.

Looking for closer ties with Western democracies, the Tunisian government was encouraged by the European Union to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court...

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