Transitional Justice, Mbariza

In December 2004 the Burundian Parliament passed a law establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The leadership in Burundi is still deeply fearful of an overall transitional justice process, leading up to general indictments, that has an influence on all major political decisions taken by the current government. The population meanwhile is traumatized, and fearful of the possible disruptive social effects of the Transitional Justice Tribunals. The media can play a crucial role to inform, educate and sensitize the population and its leaders, as there is a high need for more information about the core concepts of rendering transitional justice.

This calls, especially in Burundi, where the media are vibrant and open, for (controversial) round-table discussions. The Burundian listeners love radio debates. Nearly forty percent of the population regularly tunes in to them. For them, La Benevolencija develops Mbariza (Inform me), a bi-monthly radio debates series that will reflect on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

These debates that bring together well respected Burundian experts (ex-ministers, ex-president, university professors, etc), members of the government and civil society actors. A positive approach should enable a non-aggressive discussion on current affairs in Burundi. This positive angle should enhance space for open discussion, without falling in the “us and them” trap. To make these debates national events, it will be suggested to the authorities that broadcasts will be aired on Saturday morning during the community work sessions. By doing so, an official government engagement is taken showing the importance towards the whole population of Burundi.