Alternative justice for victims in Uganda: learning from the impact of COVID-19 on the court system

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The notion of a more “victim-centred” approach to peacebuilding and Transitional Justice (TJ), is increasingly emphasized in academic, legal and policy discourse. Unfortunately, this element is mostly lacking within the context of Uganda’s post war recovery and transition. This article attempts to strike a balance between retributive justice and reconciliation. Considering the challenges of achieving justice through the courts, including the COVID-19 disruptions, the article argues that by directly engaging survivors in alternative dispute resolution as a process embedded in plea-bargaining, the Courts can make accountability for atrocity crimes more “victim-centred”. This recommendation is radical, from an International Criminal Justice (ICJ) perspective, because redress through the courts is primarily about retribution or punishment of guilty parties, which a survivorcentred approach to plea bargaining might not always produce. The argument, however, is not to turn away from retributive justice. Rather, the claim is that it is ineffective for mass atrocities within specific contexts, on its own. Ultimately, a more radical approach is for criminal accountability mechanisms to preserve spaces that allow for reconciliation, through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Plea Bargaining. This proposed approach is meant to specifically address atrocity violence during periods of transition, which would be interpreted as radical in the context of ICJ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
JournalRadical Review
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021


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