Can There Be Healing Without Justice? Lessons from the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor

Le Touze, D., Silove, D., & Zwi, A. (2005). Can there be healing without justice? Lessons from the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor. Intervention, 3(3), 192-202.

Truth and reconciliation processes initiated in post-conflict countries have several interrelated objectives with the two key aims being to confront past injustices and to heal the suffering caused by such abuses. Structural constraints, however, often limit the extent to which justice can be achieved for all victims and their families. The present report is based on a review of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (known by its Portuguese acronym CAVR), a national initiative that was concluded in 2005. The review was based on interviews with key staff associated with the Commission. Although the key CAVR personnel and support agencies interviewed believed that the process was beneficial, they also noted that a minority of participants
continued to suffer from a range of traumatic mental health problems that required special psychological attention. Pervasive anger was evident amongst survivors, particularly in response to the impunity enjoyed by the leading perpetrators of past atrocities, lost of whom had sought refuge in Indonesia. Lessons from East Timor and elsewhere suggest the importance of anticipating the inevitable feelings of anger and frustration arising from the limitations of TRC processes in achieving justice for all victims.

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