The Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: Forgiving the Perpetrators, Forgetting the Victims?
Few issues of transitional justice are as highly charged as those surrounding the relationship between forgiveness, amnesty and justice, particularly where human rights violations have occurred. This has especially been the case where truth and reconciliation commissions have been concerned. This chapter examines the place of forgiveness and amnesty in the transitional justice processes of the Solomon Islands. It argues that like other cases of transitional justice that have gone before it, the Solomon Islands finds itself engaged in a precarious balancing act between the often competing demands of inter-personal and societal forgiveness processes. It demonstrates, on the one hand, that the idea that societal reconciliation is not possible without state-level forgiveness in the form of amnesties remains pervasive among some members of the Solomon Islands community including, unsurprisingly, many ex-combatants who hope to benefit from proposed amnesty laws. Yet, on the other hand, it also argues that unlike some other TRCs that have gone before it, the Solomon Islands TRC marks a turn away from the sort of overt, state-sanctioned, institutionally led forgiveness practices that drew sustained criticism in previous cases (such as those of El Salvador and South Africa). In particular, the Solomon Islands TRC has set itself apart from the South African model on which it was based by explicitly opposing amnesties for ex-combatants and for arguing that without justice, forgiveness alone is unlikely to achieve reconciliation for the Solomon Islands.
Transitional Justice in Practice: Conflict, Justice, and Reconciliation in the Solomon Islands