Truth commissions and criminal trials have come to be perceived as complementary transitional justice mechanisms. However, where effective prosecutions are dependent on the exchange of information and transfer of suspects between states under existing mutual legal assistance and extradition arrangements, the operation of a truth commission in the state of territoriality may act as an obstacle to international cooperation. At the same time, requests for assistance from a third state pursuing prosecutions may impact negatively on the truth commission process in the requested state by inhibiting those reluctant to become involved in criminal proceedings from offering testimony. This article demonstrates a practical discord between these bodies when they operate in different states and questions whether they can truly be considered “complementary”
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