Victims’ Rights and Distributive Justice: In Search of Actors

Abstract

The aim of this article is to discuss the role that victim groups and organizations may have in framing and supporting an accountability agenda, as well as their potential for endorsing a distributive justice agenda. The article explores two empirical cases where victims' rights have been introduced and applied by victim organizations to promote accountability—Colombia and Peru. It will be argued that if transitional justice in general and victim reparations in particular are to embark in a quest for distributive justice, it cannot do so without considering victims as political actors, and putting forward demands in terms of victims’ rights.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    This does not mean that operationalizing socio-economic rights is a simple task.

  2. 2.

    Distributive justice refers to a form of justice that takes into consideration the socio-economic and political forms of distribution and access to power and resources in any given society. See Lid and García-Godos (2010).

  3. 3.

    The article is based on previous and ongoing research in Colombia and Peru, where I have been for several fieldwork periods since 2007.

  4. 4.

    GA Res. 147, UN GA, 60th Session, UN Doc A/RES/60/147 (2005). Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

  5. 5.

    I developed this analytical framework in (García-Godos 2008a, b).

  6. 6.

    According to official figures (Acción Social) there are 3.3 million IDPs in Colombia today, while non-governmental organization and coordinator of the Follow-up Commission on Internal Displacement CODHES suggests that 5.1 million people were displaced in Colombia in the period 1985–2010, roughly 11 % of the entire Colombian population. See: “¿Consolidación de qué? Informe sobre desplazamiento, conflicto armado y derechos humanos en Colombia en 2010,” CODHES Informa, No 77 (Bogotá, 15 February 2010), p. 8, available at <http://www.codhes.org/images/stories/pdf/bolet%C3%ADn%2077.pdf>, accessed 17 April 2011.

  7. 7.

    Law 387 of 1997. Por la cual se adoptan medidas para la prevención del desplazamiento forzado; la atención, protección, consolidación y estabilización socioeconómica de los desplazados internos por la violencia en la República de Colombia, CRC.

  8. 8.

    Interestingly enough, Law 387 only refers to IDPs as victims in five instances in its text, mostly in the form of ‘victims of this phenomenon’, that is, internal displacement.

  9. 9.

    Colombian Constitutional Court. Sentence T-025, 22 January 2004.

  10. 10.

    See: http://www.accionsocial.gov.co/contenido/contenido.aspx?catID=295&conID=1933.

  11. 11.

    There are numerous organisations representing and/or composed by IDPs in Colombia today, among them: Asociación Nacional Desplazados de Colombia—ANDSCOL; Coordinación Nacional Desplazados—CND; Organización de Población del Desplazada y Desarraigada Independiente—OPDDI; Asociación de Afrodescendientes Desplazados—AFRODES; Mesa de Interlocución Gestión y Desarrollo—MIGD; Soacha; Colectivo 21 junio.

  12. 12.

    At the time of writing, peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC and ELN guerrillas are taking place in Cuba. The talks were officially initiated in October 2012.

  13. 13.

    Congress of the Republic of Colombia (CRC), Law 975, Por la cual se dictan disposiciones para la reincorporación de miembros de grupos armados organizados al margen de la ley, que contribuyan de manera efectiva a la consecución de la paz nacional y se dictan otras disposiciones para acuerdos humanitarios, 25 July 2005. For an unofficial English translation, see www.mediosparalapaz.org/downloads/Law_975_HRW_and_AI.rtf. (July 25, 2005).

  14. 14.

    For a detailed analysis of the implementation of Law 975, see García-Godos and Lid (2010). For a discussion that links up to demobilization and peace-building in the Colombian case, see García-Godos (2013).

  15. 15.

    Legislative Bill 85, 2003, Ley de alternatividad penal.

  16. 16.

    Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, Acta de Constitución, 25 June 2005. Available at: www.movimientodevictimas.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=61. See also: MAPP-OEA, Décimo tercero informe trimestral (Bogotá, 2009).

  17. 17.

    “Ley de Víctimas: un paso histórico”, Semana, Issue 1517, 28 May 2011, http://www.semana.com/nacion/ley-victimas-paso-historico/157521-3.aspx.

  18. 18.

    The law transformed Acción Social into an administrative department, the Department for Social Prosperity. An updated list of decrees regulating Law 1448 can be found in in its own website, created by the Ministry of Justice and the Law: http://www.leydevictimas.gov.co/#!__reglamentacion. Last accessed 28 March 2012.

  19. 19.

    Fujimori abandoned Peru amidst a corruption scandal in November 2000 and sought refuge in Japan, where he stayed until November 2005. Attempts by the Peruvian movement to get him extradited from Japan failed, in spite of serious pending charges. See Burt (2007). In November 2005, Fujimori unexpectedly travelled to Chile, where he was arrested by the Chilean authorities upon request by Peru. After a lengthy extradition process, the Chilean Supreme Court voted in favor of Fujimori’s extradition to Peru in September 2007. The former president was sentenced to 25 years in prison for two cases of human rights violations in 2009. See Burt (2009).

  20. 20.

    Supreme Decree 068-98-DE-S/G, Ministry of Defense, Peru.

  21. 21.

    Law no. 28592, approved on 28 July 2005.

  22. 22.

    http://derechoshumanos.pe/2012/12/mas-de-157-mil-personas-se-inscriben-en-registro-unico-de-victimas/. Last accessed 25 June 2013.

References

  1. Burt J-M (2007) Political violence and the authoritarian state in Peru. Silencing civil society. Palgrave Macmillan, New York

    Google Scholar 

  2. Burt J-M (2009) Guilty as Charged: The Trial of Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for Human Rights Violations. International Journal of Transitional Justice 3(3): 384–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. CMH (2012) Justicia y Paz Los silencios y los olvidos de la verdad. Informe del Centro de Memoria Histórica. Centro de Memoria Histórica, Bogotá

    Google Scholar 

  4. Collins C, Balardini L, Burt J-M (2011) Mapping Perpetrator Prosecutions in Latin America. Int J Transitional Justice 7:8–28

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. De Greiff P (2006) Justice and Reparations. In: De Greiff P (ed) The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  6. De Greiff P (2009) Articulating the links between transitional justice and development: Justice and social integration. In: De Greiff P, Duthie R (eds) Transitional Justice and Development. Making Connections. Social Science Research Council, NewYork, pp 29–75

    Google Scholar 

  7. Díaz A M, Marín C A (2008) Colombia: El espejismo de la justicia y la paz. Balance sobre la aplicación de la ley 975 de 2005. Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, Bogotá

  8. Duthie, R (2008) Toward a Development-Sensitive Approach to Transitional Justice, Int J Transitional Justice 2(3): 292-309

    Google Scholar 

  9. Elster J (2004) Closing the Books. Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. García-Godos J (2008) Victim reparations in the Peruvian Truth Commission and the challenge of historical interpretation. Int J Transitional Justice 2(1): 63–82

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. García-Godos, J (2008) Victim Reparations in Transitional Justice—What is at Stake and Why. Nordic J Human Rights 26(2): 111–130

    Google Scholar 

  12. García-Godos, J (2013) Colombia: Accountability and DDR in the pursuit of peace? In: Sriram C L, García-Godos J, Herman J, Martin-Ortega O (eds) Transitional Justice and Peacebuilding on the Ground. Victims and ex-combatants. Routledge, London, pp 219–237

    Google Scholar 

  13. García-Godos J, Lid K A O (2010) Transitional Justice and Victims’ Rights before the End of a Conflict: The Unusual Case of Colombia. J Lat Amer Stud 42: 487–516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. García-Godos J, Sriram C L (2013) Introduction. In: Sriram C L, García-Godos J, Herman J, Martin-Ortega O (eds) Transitional Justice and Peacebuilding on the Ground. Victims and ex-combatants. Routledge, London, pp 1–19

    Google Scholar 

  15. Huggins, C (2009) Linking Broad Constellations of Ideas: Transitional Justice, Land Tenure Reform, and Development. In: De Greiff P, Duthie R (eds) Transitional Justice and Development. Making Connections. Social Science Research Council, NewYork, pp 332-374

  16. Lambourne W (2009) Transitional Justice and Peacebuilding after Mass Violence. Int J Transitional Justice 3(1): 28–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Laplante L J (2008) Transitional Justice and Peace Building: Diagnosing and Addressing the Socioeconomic Roots of Violence through a Human Rights Framework. Int J Transitional Justice 2(3): 331–355

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Lid K A O, García-Godos J (2010) Land Restitution in the Colombian Transitional Justice Process. Nordic J Human Rights 28(2): 262–288

    Google Scholar 

  19. Mani R (2008) Dilemmas of Expanding Transitional Justice, or Forging the Nexus between Transitional Justice and Development. Int J Transitional Justice 2(3): 253–265

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Rivera C (2010) Perú. In: Las víctimas y la justicia transicional ¿Están cumpliendo los Estados latinoamericanos con los estándares internacionales? Fundación para el Debido Proceso Legal, Washington DC, pp 191-218

  21. Root, R (2009) Through the Window of Opportunity: The Transitional Justice Network in Peru. Human Rights Quarterly 31 (2):452-473

    Google Scholar 

  22. Saffon, P and R Uprimny (2009) Uses and abuses of transitional justice. In: Bergsmo M, Kalmanovitz P (eds) Law in Peace Negotiations, Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, Oslo, pp 217-243

  23. Sánchez N C (2009) Perder es ganar un poco? Avances y frustraciones de la discusión del Estatuto de Víctimas en Colombia. In Díaz C, Sánchez N C, Uprimny R (eds) Reparar en Colombia: Los dilemas en contextos de conflicto, pobreza y exclusión. ICTJ—DeJusticia, Bogotá, pp 623–718

    Google Scholar 

  24. Villarán S (2007) Peru. In: Victims Unsilenced. The Inter-American Human Rights System and Transitional Justice in Latin America. Due Process of Law Foundation, Washington DC, pp 95-126

  25. Waldorf L (2012) Anticipating the Past: Transitional Justice and Socio-Economic Wrongs. Social and Legal Studies 21(2): 171–186

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Weinstein H M (2011) Editorial Note: The Myth of Closure, the Illusion of Reconciliation: Final Thoughts on Five Years as Co-Editor-in-Chief. International Journal of Transitional Justice 5(1): 1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jemima García-Godos.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

García-Godos, J. Victims’ Rights and Distributive Justice: In Search of Actors. Hum Rights Rev 14, 241–255 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-013-0272-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Victims’ rights
  • Victim organisations
  • Distributive justice
  • Victim reparations