International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Victim Participation in the Justice Process

For the past several weeks we have been exploring several components of transitional justice outside of the realm of trials and retributive justice, including truth commissions and various forms of local justice. Many of these modes of justice are largely victim-centered and are focused on the healing and recovery of individuals and communities who have been exposed to mass violence.

In the most recent unit’s assigned reading, Luc Huyse says in his “Introduction: tradition-based approaches in peacemaking, transitional justice, and reconciliation policies” that in the past decade there has been a “move from a de facto dichotomy (impunity or trials) to multiple conceptions of justice and reconciliation- state and non-state instruments; legal, semi-judicial, and non-judicial techniques”. Within all of these techniques, where is the best place for dealing with victims and providing the most healing towards the victims?

Chris Tenove recently wrote a post on Justice in Conflict, where he outlines several different approaches to victim participation including: treating victims as legal clients, treating victims as secondary to criminal trial, and the transitional justice approach.

I personally think that ICC trials and the vast majority of trials in general tend to be inherently political and the interests of the prosecutor don’t always align with the interests of the victim. I think that having a separate forum for victim participation is more beneficial to the interests of victims. I think that the ICC could successfully administer a restorative forum for victims separate from the trial, but I also believe there are other mediums that could prove equally, if not more, successful. I am most apprehensive about state-administered approaches such as the gacaca courts in Rwanda, but I think that there are other forms of more local justice that can be successful. I’d be interested to hear more thoughts on what other people think is the best forum(s) for victim participation in the transitional justice process.

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One response to “Victim Participation in the Justice Process

  1. Alana Tiemessen November 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    When we get to the Uganda case of Mato Oput (tomorrow’s class) I’d be interested to hear back what you think of tradition as a victim vs perpetrator-centered model…it is considerably different than Gacaca in many respects and more of a true community forum.

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