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2003-2012: Engaging Diaspora in Post-Conflict Transitional Justice

June 15, 2023

In its third decade, after representing hundreds of Liberian asylum seekers, The Advocates embarked on a multi-year project to document human rights violations in Liberia. In 2005, following more than two decades of conflict, Liberia embarked on a truth and reconciliation process. But the process threatened to leave out the stories of over 1.5 million Liberians who fled from their homes during the protracted conflict.

Working at the invitation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, The Advocates for Human Rights spearheaded operations in the Liberian diaspora. The Advocates mobilized hundreds of volunteers to document the experience of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law that forced Liberians to leave the country. Volunteers collected more than 1600 statements from Liberians living in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Buduburam Refugee Settlement in Ghana. The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission traveled to Minnesota in 2008 and presided over a powerful week of public hearings.

While the quest for justice and accountability remains ongoing, it was the first-ever truth commission to include the diaspora. It set a standard for widespread inclusion of diaspora voices in transitional justice.

Photo: Commissioners Massa Washington and Oumu Syllah react to testimony given during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 2008 U.S. public hearings.