The manual is one of the collective efforts of the 12 member organizations of the ND-Burma.
ND-Burma has been documenting the human rights violations with the aim of seeking truth and justice for a peaceful democratic transition in Burma. In doing so, the ND-Burma’s Training Team has held a series of human rights documentation training for field workers as well as other human rights organizations in Burma. The training manual is being published to allow them to be more effective.
The ND-Burma would like to express its gratitude towards the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)’s Burma Program, including Patrick Pierce, Hla Myat Tun, and Monica Tulchinsky, for their editions, ND-Burma member organizations for their constructive feedbacks, Kyaw Thura for translation from English to Burmese, and London based Aegis Trust for their financial assistance to publication.
Network for Human Rights Documentation in Burma (ND-Burma) July 2012
What are truth commissions?
Truth commissions are nonjudicial, independent panels of inquiry typically set up to establish the facts and context of serious violations of human rights or of international humanitarian law in a country’s past. The commissions’ members are usually empowered to conduct research, support victims and propose policy recommendations to prevent recurrence of crimes. Through their investigations, the commissions may aim to discover and learn more about past abuses, or formally acknowledge them. They may aim to prepare the way for prosecutions and recommend institutional reforms. Most commissions focus on victims’ needs as a path toward reconciliation and reducing conflict over the past.
Truth commissions have been established on every populated continent in efforts to address mass crimes, consolidate the rule of law and promote reconciliation. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the most famous example. That commission is the only one that has granted amnesties to perpetrators who disclose their crimes.
Burma Lawyer has produced a briefer that put a spotlight on the Circle of impunity in Burma.
Within Burma, there is a system of impunity that is geared towards protecting those in power. Structurally, issues such as the lack of an independent judiciary within Burma, the system of military courts that judge all military offenses, and the guarantees of immunity for regime officials all serve to systematically subvert the rule of law in favor of the interests of the powerful. Recent events within Burma have served to entrench this system of impunityand enable continued crimes against humanity and war crimes. The military regime’s creation of a “military-Parliamentary complex,”1 its establishment of domestic human rights bodies, and its fallacious claims at its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, are all clearly designed to evade international pressure while allowing the regime to maintain the status quo.