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Closing the gap: symbolic reparations and armed groups

30-09-2011 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 883, by Ron Dudai

The question of whether non-state armed groups could and should provide reparations to their victims has been largely overlooked. This article explores this gap, with a particular focus on symbolic reparations, such as acknowledgement of the truth and apologies.

Abstract

The question of whether non-state armed groups could and should provide reparations to their victims has been largely overlooked. This article explores this gap, with a particular focus on symbolic reparations, such as acknowledgement of the truth and apologies. It argues that, while the question is fraught with legal, conceptual, and practical difficulties, there are some circumstances in which armed groups are capable of providing measures of reparations to their victims. The article identifies the issue of attacks on informers as one potential area for armed groups to provide such measures, and demonstrates that in a few cases armed groups have already engaged in actions that could be seen as analogous to symbolic reparations. The article’s main case study is provided by recent actions by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in relation to its past attacks against suspected informers.

Biography

Ron Dudai is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Queen’s University Belfast, and associate editor of the Journal of Human Rights Practice. He previously worked at B’Tselem and at Amnesty International.


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