Monday, March 2, 2015

Comparative Civilizations

Eleven years ago, a band of rebels killed more than 120 civilians in a Ugandan refugee camp.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is preparing to try the rebels’ commander for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But the survivors of the attack do not want him tried by the ICC. Instead, they say he should be pardoned if he comes to Uganda to confess his crimes and seeks forgiveness in a ritual ceremony.

“From the victims’ perspectives… traditional justice and reconciliation would have been more appropriate than a trial in the Netherlands… They feel that an international trial is not going to change anything tangible.”

I picked up this information from a small article in my local paper (it must have been just the right size to fill a ‘hole’ in the page layout).

It made me think. I remembered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the South African government to deal with the atrocities of apartheid.

I looked up some United States statistics: more than two million people in prison; more than 3,000 persons are on death row. On average, prisoners wait eleven years between the time they are sentenced and the time they are executed. One man was on Florida’s death row for 39 years.

Wouldn’t it be more effective if we were to create our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- a system of confession and forgiveness that could change the course of lives instead of twisting or ending them?

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