Why Iraq Needs a Court of Truth and Reconciliation Now

The opportunity to establish some sort of institution for restorative justice after Saddam Hussein was lost years ago, but in this article from NIQASH Iraqi poet Faris Harram argues that Iraqi society still needs one, if Iraqis ever want to find peace. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Recently I read the arrest warrant that was issued against [Iraqi Vice President] Tariq al-Hashimi on Interpol’s website. It’s difficult to know whether the man is innocent or guilty and we will all have to wait until Iraqi courts issue a verdict. But reading the warrant made me think about the golden opportunity that Iraq after 2003, when the nation had the chance to really redress the cultural imbalances created during the rule of [former Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein.

When Hussein was caught and arrested very few Iraqis spoke out to suggest a reconciliation process. Such a process would have opened the door for Iraq’s elite - intellectuals, academics, sociologists, psychologists, economists and even clerics - to initiate a unique debate.

Even though it would have taken only one decision by Parliament to set this up, it didn’t happen and we lost a golden opportunity to purge Iraqi souls and answer our society’s desires for retribution and revenge, desires that still exist today – even six years after Hussein’s execution.

Even if it wasn’t possible – for whatever reason - to put Hussein himself in front of some kind of institute of restorative justice, we must ask ourselves why we never trialled other criminals after 2003, criminals whose crimes may have been even graver than Hussein’s.

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