By Refik Hodzic

Why You Should Watch This

Without accountability for massive human rights abuses, societies coming out of conflict or dictatorship have little chance of building sustainable peace. This is the main principle of transitional justice, a set of measures used to seek redress for legacies of mass atrocity or state repression. Focusing on situations in Egypt, Uganda, Colombia and the Congo, “The Case for Justice” illuminates the crucial, but often misunderstood process facing countries across the globe.

We have all been inspired by the energy of thousands of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that ended the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Most of us know about Joseph Kony’s horrific crimes committed against defenseless civilians in Uganda. When these stories occupy the news cycle, we feel empathy for and solidarity with the people struggling against injustice. But once the news crews are gone, societies are left to find long-term solutions for lasting effects of crimes their communities suffered.  And that is what transitional justice and “The Case for Justice” are about.

Combining powerful footage, photography and interviews with activists and experts from around the world, this video is a window into issues that deserve much more insight than a short news report can provide.

Video Facts

  • Title of Video: The Case for Justice
  • Date created/posted:  July 17, 2012
  • Length: 16:40
  • Who made it: International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and Protean Films
  • Location: Egypt, Colombia, Uganda, Congo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peru, Rwanda, Argentina, Germany, Cambodia, Chile, Spain, Kosovo, South Africa, Indonesia
  • Human rights issues: genocide; crimes against humanity; forced disappearances; rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war; forced recruitment of children; gender based violence; ethnic cleansing; state repression; torture; forced labor


Goal: This video aims to contribute to a better and broader understanding of why transitional justice is relevant today and why it is crucial to pursue accountability in the wake of massive human rights violations.

Primary Audience: The intended audiences for this film include policymakers in countries dealing with legacies of conflict or dictatorship, as well as institutions and governments in the international community looking for ways to assist them. At the same time, the video can serve as a tool for human rights activists, academics and practitioners to foster a discussion on and broader understanding of transitional justice.

Message: The main message of the film is best summed up in the words of Eduardo González, a Peruvian sociologist and director of ICTJ’s Truth and Memory Program: “The promise of transitional justice is that peace is going to be more than the cessation of hostilities, that the causes of war are going to be squarely faced and squarely dealt with. Transitional measures hold a promise of authentic sustainable democracy and sustainable peace.”

Content/Style/Voices: Voices of human rights activists and leading world experts are weaved through a mosaic of powerful footage and striking images that illustrate injustice suffered by people from all corners of the world and their valiant efforts to overcome it. World-class photography complements video and archive material to bring to life these complex issues.

Through stories of activists from Egypt, Uganda, Colombia and the Congo, “The Case for Justice” describes the kinds of human rights abuses committed in these countries over the years. To illustrate how transitional justice can help redress these violations, the film brings in experiences from other countries through images and voices of experts. This poignantly illustrates the global nature of the issue: in the face of injustice and repression, we all thirst for justice and dignity. As the film comes to its uplifting culmination, we are left with clear realization that without accountability, there is no lasting peace.

Did you know?

War crimes trials, such as those of Nazi officers in Nuremberg or more recent proceedings at the International Criminal Court, are an integral part of transitional justice. And so are truth commissions like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission presided over by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Transitional justice also includes reparations for victims of human rights abuses and reforms of key state institutions like police and army.


The Case for Justice page on ICTJ’s website 

The Four Pillars of Transitional Justice:

Criminal justice


Truth and memory

Institutional reform

Join the conversation

Do you believe justice is essential for recovery of societies where massive human rights violations were committed? Some advocate that insistence on justice can endanger fragile peace in aftermath of conflict or during political transition. Would you agree?

Does this video contribute to a better understanding of transitional justice and why it is important?


Refik Hodzic is Communications Director at the International Center for Transitional Justice.

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