Victims on transitional justice : lessons from the reparation of human rights abuses in the Czech Republic

Roman DAVID, Yuk Ping, Susanne CHOI

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines major theoretical dilemmas underpinning measures of transitional justice in general 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 Czech 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-435
Number of pages44
JournalHuman Rights Quarterly
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005
Externally publishedYes

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reparation
Czech Republic
human rights
abuse
justice
democratization
reconstruction
political prisoner
human rights violation
political violence
stigmatization
reconciliation
narrative
regression
lack
interview

Cite this

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title = "Victims on transitional justice : lessons from the reparation of human rights abuses in the Czech Republic",
abstract = "This article examines major theoretical dilemmas underpinning measures of transitional justice in general 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 Czech 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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Victims on transitional justice : lessons from the reparation of human rights abuses in the Czech Republic. / DAVID, Roman; CHOI, Yuk Ping, Susanne.

In: Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2, 01.05.2005, p. 392-435.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

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AB - This article examines major theoretical dilemmas underpinning measures of transitional justice in general 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 Czech 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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