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Report European Criminology Group on Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice (ECACTJ)
The European Criminology Group on Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice (ECACTJ) provides a network for European criminologists who are engaged in research on atrocity crimes and transitional justice, whether in or on Europe, or globally. The aim of this ESC-Working Group is to enhance the contribution of criminology and criminologists in this field, to stimulate research in and on Europe and to promote exchange between European and international researchers. The group collaborates with other networks and research groups in the field. The Supranational Criminology Network is represented in the group by its founder, Professor Alette Smeulers, Tilburg University, Netherlands. With its focus on researchers in Europe, it is nonetheless global in its perspectives. The group was founded in 2013, and has thrived since then with an increasing membership. It has presently more than 30 members.
Following the success of Prague 2014 with five panels, the group presented itself with an impressive line-up of panels in Porto 2015. Themes included transnational business and atrocity crimes and human rights violations, international courts and tribunals, court procedures, and victims and perpetrators. Presenters from the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Australia and the UK gave insights into their work on transitional justice and courts in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, on historical trials like the Nuremberg Trials, or addressed global actors and their involvement in atrocity crimes.
At the 2016 European Criminology Conference in Muenster the group is represented with six panels. The conference administration was extremely helpful as they allowed for an easy way for the ECACTJ chairs (Susanne Karstedt, Nandor Knust) to allocate abstract submissions and combine them into exciting panels. This year’s panel themes include involvement in atrocity crimes, in particular narratives of perpetrators; a discussion of criminological theory and the explanation of atrocity crimes; complicity of transnational corporations in international crimes; a panel on actors and advocates in the field of transitional justice with a special focus on sexual violence; the demands for justice, truth and memory in particular at the local level; and a critical assessment of what transitional justice can achieve in the aftermath of complex conflicts. Countries and conflicts cover a range from Europe and the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, DRC in Africa and Argentina in Latin America, with presenters from all over Europe, Asia and Latin America.
In addition to the panels, this year’s keynote theme on state crime involves several members of the group. Stephan Parmentier (KU Leuven) and Chrisje Brants (Northumbria/ Utrecht) will be discussants of the keynote lecture on state crime in a session chaired by Susanne Karstedt (Griffith University, Australia).
The group now has established its own official webpage of the ECACTJ Working Group, thanks to the hard work of Nandor Knust. It will be launched at this year’s annual conference of the European Society of Criminology in Muenster. The website is constructed as a communication- and exchange-platform for researchers with a focus on the topic of transitional justice. In order to overcome the fragmentation of researchers in this field the webpage allows the members to present their personal research, publications and research interests - but the webpage will also distribute information about the collective research of the members of the ECACTJ-Working Group. Another benefit of the ECACTJ-Webpage is the provision of a twitter timeline as a real-time information sources on new articles, books and conferences on the topic of transitional justice and atrocity crimes. Therefore, this digital platform provides a space for exchange between members and enhances their visibility in the field of criminology, state crime and transitional justice throughout the year and beyond the annual meeting at ESC conferences. We hope that this will develop into thriving networks, workshop and conference opportunities, as well as joint grant applications.
Chrisje Brants, Susanne Karstedt and Nandor Knust have been approached by Ashgate to develop a series on Transitional justice. They submitted a proposal for a series with the title “The Future of Transitional Justice: Socio-legal Perspectives” In November 2015, which is presently under review. The series will solicit manuscripts for three broad themes: “Transitional justice mechanisms in a changing landscape”; “Law and legal systems in transition”; and “Addressing past injustice in mature democracies”. The publisher is excited about the series, and it is hoped that we can launch it at the end of 2016.
If you are interested to join the group, please send an email to Nandor Knust (n.knust [at] mpicc.de).
Susanne Karstedt is Professor of Criminology at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Nandor Knust is Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany