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Justice at the doorstep: victims of international crimes in formal versus tradition-based justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda

Author
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Project
The role of external actors in the use of traditional justice as a transitional justice mechanism in post-conflict Sub-Sahara Africa” (Aftralaw project)
Abstract
Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda are only three out of so many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that suffered from violent conflict during the past two decades. What is particular to all three countries is that many or even most crimes during the conflict targeted civilians. In addition, civilians often joined the armed forces in committing these crimes, after forceful or voluntary conscription or as a result of hate campaigns. This means that victims and perpetrators, even if they did not know each other directly, were often from the same village or region and have to live together after the conflict ends. This chapter focuses on coexistence between victims and perpetrators and therefore on the micro-level of dealing with the consequences of armed conflict. The assumption explored is that in post-conflict situations where victims and perpetrators live together, especially in areas where tradition is often still part of daily life, tradition-based justice pays more consideration to the victims’ rights and needs, compared to formal justice. Interestingly, each of the three countries has developed a different relationship between formal and tradition-based justice mechanisms in the framework of transitional justice, allowing comparison between the ways victims’ rights and needs have been addressed in those varying mechanisms. In the three countries studied, victims who have to live with their perpetrators at the community level, express a need for accountability, truth finding, reparations, participation and encounter. These needs are not fully met by either mechanism. The chapter concludes that formal and tradition-based mechanisms can coexist, alternate and complement each other, but that both systems need to improve their consideration of victims’ rights and needs, with an empowering respect for victims’ agency as individuals and as community members.
Keywords
Tradition-based Justice, Rwanda, Uganda, Transitional Justice, Victim's Rights, Sierra Leone

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Citation

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Chicago
Schotsmans, Martien. 2011. “Justice at the Doorstep: Victims of International Crimes in Formal Versus Tradition-based Justice Mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.” In Victimological Approaches to International Crimes : Africa, ed. Rianne Letschert, Roelof Haveman, Anne-Marie de Brouwer, and Antony Pemberton, 13:353–384. Antwerpen, Belgium ; Cambridge, UK: Intersentia.
APA
Schotsmans, M. (2011). Justice at the doorstep: victims of international crimes in formal versus tradition-based justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda. In R. Letschert, R. Haveman, A.-M. de Brouwer, & A. Pemberton (Eds.), Victimological approaches to international crimes : Africa (Vol. 13, pp. 353–384). Antwerpen, Belgium ; Cambridge, UK: Intersentia.
Vancouver
1.
Schotsmans M. Justice at the doorstep: victims of international crimes in formal versus tradition-based justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda. In: Letschert R, Haveman R, de Brouwer A-M, Pemberton A, editors. Victimological approaches to international crimes : Africa. Antwerpen, Belgium ; Cambridge, UK: Intersentia; 2011. p. 353–84.
MLA
Schotsmans, Martien. “Justice at the Doorstep: Victims of International Crimes in Formal Versus Tradition-based Justice Mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.” Victimological Approaches to International Crimes : Africa. Ed. Rianne Letschert et al. Vol. 13. Antwerpen, Belgium ; Cambridge, UK: Intersentia, 2011. 353–384. Print.
@incollection{2942018,
  abstract     = {Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda are only three out of so many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that suffered from violent conflict during the past two decades. What is particular to all three countries is that many or even most crimes during the conflict targeted civilians. In addition, civilians often joined the armed forces in committing these crimes, after forceful or voluntary conscription or as a result of hate campaigns. This means that victims and perpetrators, even if they did not know each other directly, were often from the same village or region and have to live together after the conflict ends. This chapter focuses on coexistence between victims and perpetrators and therefore on the micro-level of dealing with the consequences of armed conflict. The assumption explored is that in  post-conflict situations where victims and perpetrators live together, especially in  areas where tradition is often still  part of daily life, tradition-based justice pays more consideration to the victims{\textquoteright} rights and needs, compared to formal justice. Interestingly, each of the three countries has developed a different relationship between formal and tradition-based justice mechanisms in the framework of transitional justice, allowing comparison between the ways victims{\textquoteright} rights and needs have been addressed in those varying mechanisms. In the three countries studied, victims who have to live with their perpetrators at the community level, express a need for accountability, truth finding, reparations, participation and encounter. These needs are not fully met by either mechanism. The chapter concludes that formal and tradition-based mechanisms can coexist, alternate and complement each other, but that both systems need to improve their consideration of victims{\textquoteright} rights and needs, with an empowering respect for victims{\textquoteright} agency as individuals and as community members.},
  author       = {Schotsmans, Martien},
  booktitle    = {Victimological approaches to international crimes : Africa},
  editor       = {Letschert, Rianne and Haveman, Roelof and de Brouwer, Anne-Marie and Pemberton, Antony},
  isbn         = {9789400000902},
  issn         = {2030-5958},
  keyword      = {Tradition-based Justice,Rwanda,Uganda,Transitional Justice,Victim's Rights,Sierra Leone},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {353--384},
  publisher    = {Intersentia},
  series       = {SERIES SUPRANATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW},
  title        = {Justice at the doorstep: victims of international crimes in formal versus tradition-based justice mechanisms in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda},
  volume       = {13},
  year         = {2011},
}