Truth Commissions: Free Resource For Senior Secondary Schools
E-mail [email protected] for the full 22-page PDF resource to teach and/or create a mini-TRRC in your school. (UK GCSE Citizenship Syllabus)
Lesson Six: Truth Commissions
Goals: To gain a general understanding of the function of a truth commission Objectives: Essential Question: What is a truth commission?
- Define. Explain to the students that a truth commission or a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) is created to discover and reveal past wrongdoing by a government, in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. TRCs allow victims of human rights violations to come forward and tell their stories. The perpetrators of the violence may also provide testimony and are sometimes permitted to request amnesty from prosecution. A TRC public hearing provides a forum for people to tell their experiences during the conflict and allows people to reveal the truth, air their grievances, ask for forgiveness, and promote reconciliation. A TRC is not a court of law; appearing before it will not lead to imprisonment. Rather, a TRC is an independent committee that is in place torecord abuses that occurred during a particular period of time as well as to promote healing for both victims and alleged perpetrators. While the goals of each TRC are different, they often seek to create a historical record, prevent repetition of the violations, address impunity, promote reconciliation and healing, and address the needs of victims. TRCs will often conclude by making recommendations to the government regarding their findings. Ask the students if they can name any countries who have gone or are presently going through this process?
Give each student Handout 1: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Around the World. Give the students some time to read each summary and answer the questions on their handout (also shown below). Have students answer the questions individually first and then discuss as a large group.
Understanding the Roles. This activity will give students a chance to understand the parties involved in a TRC. If doing activity 2 of this lesson (Truth Commission Role Play) explain to the students that each of them will be playing one of these roles. Divide the class into four groups: commission members, victims, perpetrators, and witness observers. (If you are doing the roleplay, you may pre-assign roles to students and divide the groups according to their assigned roles). Give the members of each group Handout 2:
ETC, ETC, ETC.
Notting Hill, London, UK.