Uncovering Truth: Excavating the Facts Surrounding Past Human Rights Abuses: The Case of Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission

Robert Kwame Ameh, University of New Brunswick

A key mandate of all Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) is to ascertain the truth about past injustices and to establish accurate records of the violations and abuses. But it is also clear from the literature that TRCs are different from traditional criminal courts and so may use a different standard of proof in their attempts to determine the facts surrounding the cases they deal with. And with a membership comprising people usually of diverse backgrounds, how do TRCs uncover the 'truth' surrounding a case of past human rights abouse? But what is "truth"? More specifically, how does Ghana's NRC ascertain the truth of the cases before it? These are the key questions explored in this paper, which is based on analysis of specific cases and interviews with members and key staff of Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission that started public hearings on January 14, 2003.

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Updated 05/20/2006