Transitional Criminal Justice in Post-Dictatorial and Post-Conflict Societies

States that are in transition after a dictatorship or a violent conflict face formidable challenges concerning accountability for human rights violations. This edited collection considers criminal justice as a method of addressing state violence committed by non-democratic regimes. Its main objectives concern a fresh, contemporary, and critical analysis of transitional criminal justice as a concept and its related measures, beginning with the initiatives since the fall of the Communist regimes in Europe in 1989.
Agata Fijalkowski, Raluca Grosescu
Series on Transitional Justice
book | published | 1st edition
January 2015 | x + 290 pp.



ISBN 9781780682600

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ISBN 9781780685687

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This volume considers the important and timely question of criminal justice as a method of addressing state violence committed by non-democratic regimes. The book’s main objectives concern a fresh, contemporary, and critical analysis of transitional criminal justice as a concept and its related measures, beginning with the initiatives that have been put in place with the fall of the Communist regimes in Europe in 1989.

The project argues for rethinking and revisiting filters that scholars use to interpret main issues of transitional criminal justice, such as: the relationship between judicial accountability, democratisation and politics in transitional societies; the role of successor trials in rewriting history; the interaction between domestic and international actors and specific initiatives in shaping transitional justice; and the paradox of time in enhancing accountability for human rights violations. In order to accomplish this, the volume considers cases of domestic accountability in the post-1989 era, from different geographical areas, such as Europe, Asia and Africa, in relation to key events from various periods of time. In this way the approach, which investigates space and time-lines in key examples, also takes into account a longitudinal study of transitional criminal justice itself.

About the book
‘Transitional justice nowadays is an industry which produces hundreds of texts each year and it is difficult to turn our attention to an intellectual product. This book is well-balanced and will find recognition in readers and students of transitional justice, as well as researchers on social transformation. It is a collection in the best tradition of socio-legal research. The book is recommended for two reasons: its serious treatment of criminal justice as a part of transitional justice, and its approach, which locates the problem of transitional justice in post-communist Europe in a broader, comparative context.’
Prof. Dr. Adam Czarnota, Scientific Director of the International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Oñati, Spain

‘By carefully considering how criminal justice relates to democratization, collective memory, internationalist concerns, and the passage of time since violations occurred, this volume contributes importantly to the evolving transitional justice literature. The questions it raises are timely and theoretically grounded, and the choice of cases diverse and illuminating. Its authors richly contextualize their examinations, complementing recent broad comparative studies that explore large numbers of cases with little detail. This in-depth study critically advances our understanding of the challenges of justice on the fraught terrain of transitioning societies. ‘
Nadya Nedelsky, Associate Professor and Chair, International Studies, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN

‘A collection of provocative, thoughtful and superbly documented contributions to our understanding of the dilemmas of transitional justice in post-dictatorial societies. The authors argue that democratic communities cannot function properly if they do not address past crimes and abuses. Genuine reconciliation cannot take place if memory and justice are ignored and denied. With its insightful comparative perspective, this book is highly recommended to all those who care about the relationship between human rights and democracy.’
Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland (College Park)

‘Contemporary scholars interested in transitional criminal justice, in particular, and in the growing literature that critically revisits transitional justice’s core assumptions, in general (what I call critical transitional justice studies), will enjoy reading the book, as it invites us to revise and complexify the relation between rising international human rights standards and domestic criminal accountability. It also provides compelling evidence for scholars interested in comparative work. It offers material on a variety of post-dictatorial and post-conflict countries that diverge as to both the regime type and nature of transition. Scholars will find unique empirical evidence from rarely covered countries like Albania and Nepal. Overall, the collection offers a refreshing intervention (if still somewhat cautious perhaps) into the field of criminal transitional justice studies and it lays the groundwork for future studies in that area.’
Nina Schneider on Historical Dialogues, Justice, and Memory Network (January 2016)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (p. 0)

Introduction (p. 1)

Agata Fijalkowski, Raluca Grosescu


Chapter 1. Retrospective Justice: Post-Communist Germany and Poland in Comparative Perspective (p. 19)

Chapter 2. Transitional Justice in Nepal: Prosecutions, Reform and Accountability Strategies (p. 47)

Chapter 3. Transitional Trials as History Writing: The Case of the Romanian December 1989 Events (p. 69)

Chapter 4. Transitional Criminal Justice: The Polish Way (p. 101)

Chapter 5. Public Contestation and Politics of Transitional Justice: Poland and Albania Compared (p. 123)

Chapter 6. Consolidating Democracy Through Transitional Justice in Slovenia: Lessons Learnt? (p. 147)


Chapter 7. International Politics of Justice: The Political Underpinnings of the Emergence of an International Regime (p. 167)

Chapter 8. Positive Complementarity: Fine-Tuning the Transitional Justice Discourse? The Cases of the Democratic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya (p. 187)

Chapter 9. Punishing Mass Atrocities: Penological Developments in the Aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide (p. 209)

Chapter 10. International and National Legal Assessment of Crimes Committed by the Communist Regimes: Lithuanian Case Study (p. 231)

Chapter 11. Conclusions (p. 273)

About the Authors (p. 287)

Open access content

Parts of this book have been made open access. We make chapters open access because they are particularly topical, or provide a useful introduction to the subject. They may be available for a limited time or indefinitely. Some books are entirely and permanently open access.

Table of Contents (p. 0)
About the Authors (p. 287)

About the series:

Series on Transitional Justice

Countries emerging from long periods of authoritarian rule must often confront a legacy of gross human rights abuses perpetrated over many years. During the past two decades, these age-old issues have been termed “problems of transitional justice”, both by academics and policy makers around the world. Given the frequency with which these problems arise, as well as the complexity of the issues involved, it is striking that no book series has taken the issue of transitional justice as its point of focus.

The Series on Transitional Justice offers a platform for high-quality research within the rapidly growing field of transitional justice. This research is, of necessity, inter-disciplinary in nature, drawing from disciplines such as law, political science, history, sociology, criminology, anthropology and psychology, as well as from various specialised fields of study such as human rights, victimology and peace studies. It is furthermore international in outlook, drawing on the knowledge and experience of academics and other specialists in many different regions of the world.

The series is aimed at a variety of audiences who are either working or interested in fields such as crime and justice; human rights; humanitarian law and human security; conflict resolution and peace building. These audiences may include academics, researchers, students, policy makers, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and the media.

Editorial board:
- Prof. Stephan Parmentier (University of Leuven, Belgium)
- Prof. Jeremy Sarkin (NOVA University of Lisbon School of Law, Portugal) and
- Dr. Mina Rauschenbach (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland and University of Leuven, Belgium)

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