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Victims on Transitional Justice: Lessons from the Reparation of Human Rights Abuses in the Czech Republic

David, Roman
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Human Rights Quarterly 27:392-435.

This article examines major theoretical dilemmas underpinning measures of transitional justice in general justice and the reparation of victims of human rights violations in particular. It assesses the role of financial compensation, justice, truth-telling, forgiveness, democratization, and other factors that are assumed to heal victims of political violence. In order to test their influence, we conducted a survey of former political prisoners in the Czesh Republic. Findings from our regression analyses reveal that reparation is a two-dimensional process that incorporates sociopolitical redress and inner healing. These dimensions correlate positively with financial compensation and democratization; and negatively with public truth telling, the lack of reconciliation, and continued stigmatization by neighbors. At the same time, most proxies of retributive desires are not significantly related to the outcomes of reparation. These associations are interpreted in the light of narrative accounts obtained through interviews, letters, and observations.
The results indicate that individual reparation, if it is to be successful, must be an organic part of a broader policy of social reconstruction. Based on our findings, we propose a victim-oriented model of social reconstruction for transitional countries.


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