Perhaps most importantly, its aim is to give the victims a forum through which their story may be told before it becomes obscured by a society unwilling to confront its unpleasant and inconvenient truths. While forgetting may seem an alluring option for some, unwilling as they are to face the disquietude brought about by rousing old skeletons, there is a greater ethical and moral imperative to exhume the past if only to serve as lessons for the future.
In her important book entitled “Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence”, Martha Minow looks at the range of institutional responses that have been crafted with the end in view of seeking justice for the victims of mass atrocities and demanding accountability from the perpetrators. The ethical imperative of incorporating justice into efforts towards peace in a post-conflict context is at the heart of the transitional justice project. Its premise is that war and conflict have brought about a slew of human rights and international humanitarian law violations which demand accountability from its perpetrators and reparation for its victims. Minow uses this framework in her book as she problematizes the difficulties of navigating the complex road to justice, in the complex terrain and conditions of a post-conflict situation.
Minow, however, presented a crucial dilemma when she stated that "The central premise of individual responsibility portrays defendants as separate people capable of autonomous choice- when the phenomena of mass atrocities render that assumption at best problematic" (1998: 46). This is a dilemma because it articulates a conflict between the desire to prosecute individual perpetrators for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the realization that the mass atrocities were taking place amid extraordinary conditions and assigning individual criminal responsibility to the perpetrators –