Cyrilla Weber, MA
Cyrilla Weber graduated in Ethnology and African Languages at University Zurich and changed to University Basle for the winter semester 04/05 for her Master Studies in the subject of African Studies. She graduated successfully in 2007. Since August 2008, Cyrilla Weber works as team leader at „DAS Winterthur“ (Drogenanlaufstelle Winterthur).
Der Umgang mit der Vergangenheit. Aspekte des Transitional Justice Process in Sierra Leone (Dealing with the past. The transitional justice process in Sierra Leone)
Cyrilla Weber’s master thesis examines how post-conflict societies handle heir past. On the basis of the case study of Sierra Leone, a country that experienced a war between 1991 and 2002 and that is now engaged in peace building, she discusses and analyses processes and institutions of reconciliation and compensation. In her qualitative research, which is based on interviews with experts and people concerned in Sierra Leone, the author asks, (1) why have there been no governmental compensation measures; (2) how has the lack of a definition of „victim“ interfered with the compensation process; (3) how has the unequal treatment of perpetrator and victims impacted the peace building?
Her research shows that, according to her interview partners, the war victim funds and the reconciliation programmes are inexistent due to a lack of interest on the government’s side, and that a discussion about a suitable term for „victim“ is redundant, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) clearly describes in its final report who is eligible for the funds and the reconciliation programme and who is not. Apart from the question of compensation, the reconciliation of the people is a further mandate of the TRC. The author of this study pinpoints that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone has failed during its operations of just about 18 months to achieve sustainable reconciliation among the various parties. Furthermore, it has become evident that the South-African concept of reconciliation through „truth-telling“ is not welcomed by the people as a major share of the population of Sierra Leone prefers the culture of silence. This does not mean, though, that the people have forgiven each other, she states. The author concludes that the absence of reconciliation and the strategy of neglect are impeding a successful Transitional Justice Process and that - apart from a prosecution of persons with highest responsibility, of mid-level commanders and of foot-soldiers, and apart from a transformation of the highly corrupt national legal system - there is a necessity for a concept of reconciliation which takes into consideration the local reconciliation mechanisms.