Improving Liberia’s Transitional Justice Process by Engaging Women

Authored by: Michelle Page, Cerue Garlo, and Marpue Speare

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Country: Liberia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2010
Citation: Page, Michelle, Cerue Garlo, and Marpue Speare. Improving Liberia’s Transitional Justice Process by Engaging Women. Washington, DC: Institute for Inclusive Security, 2010.

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Executive Summary

Transitional justice processes strive to reform cultures of impunity and to re-establish rule of law. Temporary courts and commissions give victims a sense of justice and initiate the longer-term process of individual and communal psychological healing. Often, these institutions provide a means for both victims and perpetrators to acknowledge crimes committed. Crimes of war are more likely to be addressed during transitional justice e orts when women contribute. Women link official processes to communities and often provide information about crimes. They have knowledge of the distinct, complex violations of rights women suffer that can significantly inform truth commission mandates, judicial opinions, reparations schemes, and proposals for policy reform. Temporary courts and commissions function better when women are included throughout. Witnesses speak more freely to female judges. Male defense attorneys speak more respectfully to female witnesses. When a female judge presides, courts are more gender sensitive and provide more sophisticated witness protection. Moving women to actively participate in consolidating peace ensures that their voices, concerns, and needs are recognized and addressed. In Liberia, following the 2003 resolution of two decades of violent conflict, a consortium of organizations under the umbrella of the Women NGO’s Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) facilitated a series of regional women-only dialogues around the country to ensure that local women were involved in the transitional justice process.