Certain truth and reconciliation processes around the world remain understudied. This means that valuable lessons for transitional justice processes elsewhere are not learned. This article therefore examines lessons from the Togolese Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR). It examines the historical context of violence in Togo in order to understand why the country decided to establish a truth commission and looks at how previous inquiries established the need for such a process. Other issues examined are the CVJR’s mandate, the time period provided to do its work, and the pros and cons of the choices made with respect to these matters. The article looks at the powers of the CVJR, its recommendations, and examines issues related to truth recovery, victims’ needs, and the Commission’s ability to combat impunity. Finally, the Commission’s effectiveness and legacy for the country are assessed. The article argues that for an under-resourced process the commission performed well in some areas but not so well in other areas. It is argued that it was a useful process in some respects, but that more could have been done had the process optimally worked. The article provides lessons that can be ascertained from the Togolese process.

Author Bio(s)

Jeremy Sarkin is an admitted attorney in South Africa as well as in the state of New York, USA; He Professor of Law, at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law and member of CEDIS, Nova University Faculty of Law, Lisbon, Portugal. He was a member (2008-2014), and was Chairperson-Rapporteur (2009-2012), of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Professor Sarkin served as an acting judge in 2002 and 2003 in South Africa. He also served as National Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of South Africa from 1994-1998. He is a co-editor of the book series on Transitional Justice at Intersentia Publishers and serves on a number of journal editorial boards.

Tetevi Davi holds a Master of Laws from the University of Maastricht and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nottingham, England. He is a Legal Intern at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. He is also a junior editor of the African Court on Human and People's Rights Monitor. He writes in his personal capacity.


Keywords Transitional justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, dealing with the past, Togo, prosecutions, Togolese Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR), human rights, violence, conflict.

Publication Date






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.