The Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Program
Transitional Justice is a multidisciplinary field of contemporary research and practice. It is concerned with the study of processes that can enable societies that have suffered from widespread human rights violations (as a result of severe political and social disruption, armed conflict, military rule, authoritarian regimes, or even genocide) to transition successfully to sustainable conditions of peace, reconciliation, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. Such processes may include truth-seeking, acknowledgement, accountability, apologies, reparations, constitutional reform, community empowerment and redistribution of resources, among others.
The Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Program was established by the Hebrew University's Minerva Center for Human Rights and Faculty of Law in 2011 as a long-term interdisciplinary program for research, education and outreach activities related to transitional justice. It is the first academic program in Israel devoted to the field.
The Program draws on the rich comparative experience accrued in the field globally over the last several decades, and to the contribution of scholars, practitioners and institutions from other conflict/reconciliation settings around the world. However, whereas "classic" transitional justice theory and practice has focused on post-conflict transitions, the Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Program also seeks to explore the field’s potential during the course of an active conflict and the contributions it can make to the processes leading to a political settlement – with particular focus on the Israeli-Palestinian context.
The Program includes both introductory transitional justice courses as part of the Hebrew University's Law Faculty undergraduate curriculum, and an English-language MA program in human rights and transitional justice at the Faculty of Law. It also offers unique student workshops and international study tours to regions of transition (such as Rwanda, Northern Ireland and Cyprus); conferences, symposia and workshops with leading international and local scholars and civil society and government practitioners; and scholarships for minority students.
Through the Clinical Legal Education Center, the Program operates two projects focused on East Jerusalem that involve dealing with historical injustices: The Legal Status Project and the Criminal Justice Project. In the Legal Status Project, the International Human Rights Clinic represents Palestinians, mostly from East Jerusalem, who face various challenges related to their official status in Israel due to the peculiar history of the area. These include registration of children at the Ministry of Interior, family reunification, citizenship status and residency status. The precariousness of official status has a dramatic impact on all aspects of life for Palestinians, from the basic right to live as a family, through democratic representation, to social rights.
As part of the Criminal Justice Project, the Multiculturalism and Diversity Clinic will concentrate on legal issues related to structural and conflict-related discrimination of Palestinians in East Jerusalem across the public service sector and with regard to official/government attitudes relating to their precarious status in the City. These include erasing the criminal records of minors from marginalized groups in East Jerusalem who have a criminal record even though they were never indicted. The Clinic also plans to update a 2017 memo on profiling, which served as a useful point of reference in policy discussions for multiple advocacy groups in Israel, to include new legal, technological and policy developments in Israel, other countries and international law. Finally, the Clinic plans to address the adverse impact of the serious shortage of parole officers in East Jerusalem, including significant delays in processes such as the release of detained Palestinian criminal suspects, sentencing practices, and early release from incarceration. The Clinic plans to employ a host of social-change tools, including awareness raising, direct appeals and legal challenges, in order to ensure that the relevant governmental authorities address this shortage.
The Clinical Legal Education Center will establish in the academic year 2021-2022 a field center in the city of Lod, in order to address, through the handling of individual cases, problems arising from the long-standing divisions between the different communities in Lod, including issues of group identity, coexistence, and historical injustice, and through legal channels promote a better, more just future. This project will be carried out in collaboration with two local organizations (“Naam” and “Citizens Build a Community”), through two clinics of the center - the Clinic for Multiculturalism and Diversity and the International Human Rights Clinic, tackling issues such as residency, citizenship, discrimination in allocation of municipal resources and access to education.
The Program benefits from the generous support of the Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Initiative, and from the guidance of an International Advisory Board of leading scholars and practitioners in the field.