'Friend' of the Court: New Media and Transitional Justice

12 Sep, 2011

'Friend' of the Court: New Media and Transitional Justice

'Friend' of the Court: New Media and Transitional Justice
Camille Crittenden, Executive Director, UC Berkeley, Human Rights Center
Chapter in forthcoming book to be published by the International Center for Transitional Justice.

The rapid rise of online channels for public information and community-building has been contemporaneous with the establishment of several important tribunals and organizations devoted to transitional justice (TJ). Building on the commercial success of companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Ning, courts and NGOs have an opportunity not only to disseminate their own content (reports, webcasts, podcasts, and the like) but also to encourage constituents to participate actively in the conversation by posting messages, contributing photos, and organizing events.

As promising as these tools may be for raising awareness of justice proceedings and engaging the public, outreach professionals and those who make claims for the value of TJ mechanisms for social reconstruction should also be alert to the potential pitfalls and limitations of new media. This chapter will examine the power of new media tools to shape the discourse on TJ, reach new audiences, contribute to the investigation and prosecution of cases, and create institutional legacies. It will also raise cautionary notes regarding the relevance of these tools for affected communities and discuss their capacity to derail support for TJ measures or undermine courts' effectiveness.