Research Handbook on Transitional Justice
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Research Handbook on Transitional Justice

Edited by Cheryl Lawther, Luke Moffett and Dov Jacobs

Providing detailed and comprehensive coverage of the transitional justice field, this Research Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to explore how societies deal with mass atrocities after periods of dictatorship or conflict. Situating the development of transitional justice in its historical context, social and political context, it analyses the legal instruments that have emerged.
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Chapter 21: Transitional justice: Vetting and lustration

Cynthia M. Horne


Vetting and lustration are two types of transitional justice that fall under the category of personnel reform mechanisms. Most basically, the measures involve the screening of individuals in public institutions, semi-public positions and/or loosely defined positions of public trust in order to verify that personnel have the integrity and capacity to fulfil their positions in a way that supports the goals of the new regime. Individuals found lacking in certain integrity or capability criteria are compulsorily removed from their positions, prevented from taking new positions, encouraged to voluntarily resign from positions or face the public disclosure of their past, or alternatively, are required to confess past involvement as a form of accountability. Vetting and lustration measures are alleged to establish a break with the past and provide opportunities for state and societal rebuilding and reconciliation. Vetting and lustration have been used in a variety of post-conflict and post-authoritarian contexts, including targeted security sector reforms in Liberia and Bosnia, broader public employee assessment programs in Greece and El Salvador, and personnel reforms coupled with truth-telling in the Czech Republic and Poland. As transitional justice measures, they are malleable to the institutional setting and capacity of states, and can be enacted in conjunction with other measures, like trials, truth commissions and amnesties. In terms of goals, both vetting and lustration are designed to directly improve the trustworthiness and functionality of the new regime’s institutions and indirectly support the processes of democratization, state (re)building and societal reconciliation. Vetting; lustration; personnel reform; institutional change

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