President Kiss Discusses Restorative

President Kiss Discusses Restorative Justice for NY Times

Friday, March 8, 2013

Agnes Scott President Elizabeth Kiss wrote an opinion editorial March 4 for The New York Times about how societies should deal with past atrocities, such as apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Rwanda.

From her editorial:

Never again!" is the rallying cry for all who aspire to build just and humane societies in the aftermath of tyranny, terror or torture. The question is, how? What processes and institutional mechanisms can help societies recover from genocide and crimes against humanity and achieve a just and lasting peace? And what moral and political considerations should guide their design?

Many argue that justice demands punishment. Those who committed or authorized atrocities, they say, must be prosecuted by domestic or international courts. Only by ending immunity for perpetrators can we deter human rights abuses in the future.

Truth commissions bring restorative justice that sears horrific history into the collective memory, but allows for productive reconciliation. This call for retribution has the virtue of moral clarity, but it is impractical in many situations. What if human rights violations occurred on multiple sides, so that, as the former South African military commander Constand Viljoen said, "the terror of the tyrant invited the terror of the revolutionary"? Or if the perpetrators numbered in the hundreds of thousands, as happened in the Rwanda genocide?

Read the rest of the editorial here.

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