Sixth and final panel in the Innovative Media for Change in Transitional Justice conference, A Debate between Journalists, Academics and Practitioners on Transitional Justice, Media and Conflict held on 22-23 June 2015.
In the last two decades, there has been growing pressure on international criminal courts to become more ‘victim-oriented’. There has also been increasing support for local and community-based Transitional Justice (TJ) mechanisms precisely because they are supposed to be closer and more accessible to victims and affected communities. In response to these pressures, new courts such as the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone have developed outreach strategies, using different types of media such as interactive radio programmes and partnering with local media to create a ‘two-way communication’ between international courts and affected communities. It is often ignored that at the same time, there has also been a push by TJ actors and institutions to reach out to combatants, encouraging them to return to their communities and to participate in reintegration and reconciliation processes. For example, Radio Mega FM in Gulu (Uganda) has been instrumental in sending ‘defection messages’ to rebels of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA). This panel will explore the similarities and differences between outreach to these different TJ stakeholders especially with regard to the use of media: Is media used differently in ‘victim outreach’ and ‘perpetrator outreach’ and if so, how? Is outreach simply a ‘top-down’ process, co-opting both victims and perpetrators to support TJ institutions or can it help to create genuine ‘local ownership’ of TJ? How can we reach out to people who fall into the ambiguous category of being victim and perpetrator at the same time? What role do local journalists play in outreach efforts: are they simply a tool of outreach or do they play an independent role? Is there a critical media space at the local level for journalists to resist the justice narratives of different TJ institutions?
Alison Smith – Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program, No Peace without Justice, Brussels, Gerhard Anders –Lecturer in African Studies, University of Edinburgh, Gaelle Carayon – ICC Legal Officer, Redress, London, Leila Ullrich (Facilitator) –Convenor of Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR), PhD student in Criminology, University of Oxford