31.05.2007, Sierra Leone, Truth and Reconciliation Working Group, Report on Transitional Justice
Capacity Building Project
John Caulker, National Chairman, Truth and Reconciliation Working Group
c/oForum of Conscience
89 Fort Street, Freetown
Tel:+232 76 603038.
1. Overview of Project Training Events:
In line with the ‘capacity building’ aim of this ex-combatant project, one 5-day training workshop was conducted from 5-9 June 2006 and one 6-day training was facilitated from 5-10 February 2007. Both training events were held at the Pastoral Centre, Makeni, Sierra Leone. Twenty organizations (see list in report complied by Sierra Leone partner - Forum of Conscience FOC) were targeted to participate in both trainings in order to maintain a strong level of consistency. These groups represented ex-combatants, war-affected populations and service providers within the civil society sector across Sierra Leone. While for the most part different individuals attended each workshop the same 20 organizations were represented in both training experiences. The first training concentrated on trauma healing, non-violence, restorative justice and reconciliation through community mediation processes. The second training touched on these same topics with a much stronger emphasis on exploring the violence worldview and how to transition from ‘violence into wholeness’. The sixth day of the second training was utilized to give an overview of Election Monitoring processes. Participants in both workshops expressed appreciation for the following components of the trainings:
- Participatory Training Methodology & Application processes utilized
- Broad-based Representation of Ex-combatant Groups and Service Providers
- The Co-operation and Networking opportunities provided
Full narrative reports (June 2006 & Feb. 2007) on both the workshop contents (compiled by FOC) and specific training recommendations (complied by the Facilitator) are available.
2. Summary of Mid-Project Evaluation Visit:
A 3-day Mid-Project Evaluation trip was made in October of 2006. This assessment had the following objectives:
- To clarify the overall direction of the project
- To assess the impact of the first training
- To capture the applications (formal/informal) made by participants since the training
- To meet, interview and record stories of the participants work in peace-building
- To gather information about what should be included in future trainings
While the participant’s goal of actualizing a fully functional network (outlined in Training Report – I – June 2006) had not materialized, it was evident from the information gathered that the training did have significant impact on the organizations and the activities of many of the participants. These points of clarification and the stories of various participant interventions have been captured in a full Evaluation Report (October 2006).
3. Development of Training Manual:
One of the key outcomes of this project was the development of a training manual aimed at assisting in the reintegration of ex-combatants in post-war settings. This manual was produced and piloted in the second training held in Feb. 2007. A copy of this material is available. The following gives a description of the content of the training package.
3.1. Section One: Deconstructing the Violence System and its Effects
Most post-war reintegration endeavors fail to take into full account the pervasive world-view of violence that has been internalized by both combatants and civilians coming out of the ravages of war. The compilers of this manual are of the conviction that a foundational key to post-war reintegration is the paradigm shift from mind-sets of violence into those of nonviolence, and thus considerable attention has been given to this transformative journey. This manual promotes the radical idea that post-war societies will only experience trauma healing, restorative justice and reconciliation to the degree that they have begun to renounce the dominating systems of violence that envelope their human thinking and structures. In this section we explore the dynamics of worldviews, the structure of a violence system, aggression and the nature of humankind and the interplay of carnage, trauma, and healing within both civilian and combatant populations.
3.2.. Section Two: Reframing the Meaning of Demobilization, Demilitarization & Reintegration (DDR)
In Section Two we redefine (deepen and enrich) the understanding and process of DDR. The first “D” stands for ‘De-mining the Motivations for Violence’ which will grapple with the human need to honour the dead, extracting ourselves from cycles of reprisal and constructing narratives that allow us to remember without revenge. The second “D” stands for ‘Decoding the Mind-set of Violence’ which will expose the violence scaffolding of authoritarianism, dependency and the abuse of hierarchy, group-think, enemy formation, killer conditioning, and the use of drugs. We will explore the dynamics of power and fear in violence. Thirdly, the “R” stands for ‘Restoring the Circle of Community” which deals with the requirements and applications of restorative justice, frameworks for advocacy, community mediation, peace-building and the reconciliation process.
1.) To provide the space for participant transformation through a process of deconstructing the violence world-view and moving in the direction of nonviolence as a value and lifestyle.
2.) To reframe the meaning of DDR processes by exploring and applying frameworks of trauma recovery, transitional justice, and community peace-building in the context of Sierra Leone.
3.) To enhance participant’s skill-sets and competencies in facilitating trauma healing, restorative justice, community mediation and reconciliation processes on-the-ground in Sierra Leone.
4.) To contribute to constructive nation-building and nation-healing processes in Sierra Leone with in the mind the upcoming Elections scheduled for July 2007.
4. Salient Themes & Recommendations:
4.1. Elections Monitoring Training:
Recommendation # 1: That CSVR in conjunction with FOC and interested civil society ex-combatant organizations plan to conduct training in Elections Monitoring, leading up to the July 2007 National Elections.
In this period of post-war political transition, Sierra Leone is grappling with what it means to embrace new forms of democracy, participatory governance and setting-up new structures of social co-existence. Civic education and citizen empowerment are enormous needs in Sierra Leone at this time. Based on the positive response from the one-day Election Monitoring training in February 2007 and the critical importance of the upcoming National Elections, it is vital to frame activities that contribute to a ‘free & fair’ Election within the category of ‘transitional justice’ work. The accredited 2-day training package developed by the NEC should be utilized as the content basis for these workshops. However, if this training package is not forthcoming, training materials from the SADC region could also be adjusted for use in Sierra Leone.
Recommendation # 2: That CSVR consider how it could best bolster the network capabilities of Ex-combatant NGOs & Civil Society agencies involved in this project.
Throughout the duration of this project, the FOC and training participants have expressed the need for more coordinated co-operation and partnership among and between civil society actors in Sierra Leone. This may be well served by concentrating on the ‘organizational development’ of the participant groups (Ex-combatant and Care-giving organizations) represented in the two trainings held to date. A clear starting point would be the plan to form a Network (Association) promulgated by the participants in both training events. This network could carry out advocacy and programme activities across the country (see Training Report I – June 2006). It would be recommended that participant cluster groups be formed in each of the four regions of the country. This could be followed by a series of inputs including workshops on strategic planning, teambuilding, advocacy skills, community mobilization and Training of Trainers (T.O.T.) with each of the newly formed participant clusters.
4.3. Trauma Healing:
Recommendation # 3: That CSVR in partnership with FOC consider embarking on a longer term trauma healing programme in Sierra Leone.
There was considerable interest shown (participant feedback) in the processes of trauma healing coming from the participants in both training events. The expressed emotional climate of the training participants, as well as the observed group interactions (unspoken dynamics) indicated a great deal of trauma being carried by almost all those participating in the trainings. It is highly recommended that CSVR in conjunction with FOC explore possible avenues for engaging in trauma healing processes in Sierra Leone. In post-war reconstruction transitions, it is becoming evident that there is a direct correlation between the degree of peace sustenance and the extent of collective trauma healing experienced in any given society.
There are three possible Trauma Healing projects that could to be considered for Sierra Leone:
·- Separate trauma recovery training could be conducted with each participant organization,
·- Joint trauma recovery training could be offered to the current group of participants as a follow-up to the training already received in this project.
·- Plan a joint training with a select group of community facilitators who would receive advanced training in facilitating community trauma recovery processes. (A collective, self-help trauma healing model & training programme has been developed in South Africa and is currently being replicated in other international settings.) These trained facilitators would then be given appropriate resources and support to form their own groups and conduct community trauma healing processes in their local areas. ‘Grass-roots’ trauma recovery processes would then spread out through local, on-the-ground multiplication as each group member spawns new self-help community groups for trauma healing.
4.4. Restorative Justice:
Recommendation # 4: That CSVR & FOC strategically plan for a restorative justice pilot project.
This recommendation has been birthed out of the need and call for practical steps to implementing the findings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone (see Training Report I – June 2006). It also builds on the recent reconciliation between the four war-victims groups (amputees, blind, civilian war-wounded and the military war-wounded) and the subsequent joint structure that has emerged (see Evaluation Report, Oct. 2006). This project would target offering assistance in advocacy campaigns, public participation and dialogue forums, and victim-offender mediation processes to the communities in which war-affected populations live and work. This project would add value to the past training events in which the theory and practice of Restorative Justice was introduced and applied within the context of Sierra Leone.
4.5. Gender Violence Resulting from War:
Recommendation # 5: That CSVR consider establishing a Gender project to educate on gender violence and address the reintegration needs of girls & women directly affected by the war.
Sierra Leone experienced large amounts of engendered violence through terror campaigns of rape, abduction and forced slavery (sexual and otherwise) of girls & women during the time of civil war. The psycho-social ‘fall-out’ of this kind of violence is immense. The rebel’s ‘bush wives’ and their children (born as a result of the war) are often rejected by family and community. Many of these young women who were school going age at the time of their abduction have not completed school and have very few options for livelihood except to return to their soldier ‘husbands’ or to turn to other forms of income generation such as prostitution. Coupled with this, it was strikingly clear from group discussions in the training, that the vast majority of Sierra Leonean men still endorse domestic violence (wife-beating) as an appropriate “cultural” practice. Two women participants have already begun working among the girl prostitutes and women prisoners in the town of Makeni (see Evaluation Report, Oct. 2006). These women community leaders are currently using their own resources to visit these vulnerable girls/women and build relationship, offer counsel, mediation services and to make linkages to alternative forms of income generation for these women. The impetus for gender work as a focus area, has already developed momentum.
It has been pleasure to work with two strong and vibrant NGOs such as CSVR and FOC. I believe both of these organizations are playing a leading role in the post-war re-construction of Sierra Leone. The lessons learned and the training material developed from this ex-combatant project have added value to the field of Transitional Justice and I recommend this learning be replicated in neighboring countries such as Liberia and elsewhere in Africa.
Submitted by: Carl S. Stauffer, Regional Peace Network, 23 April 2007