Transitional justice holds perpetrators of human rights violations responsible and attempts to give closure to the victims. The main concern is to rebuild societies after mass atrocity crimes. The three paradigms that explain the distinct ways of approaching transitional justice are retributive, restorative and reparative justice. These three paradigms work together to achieve the same goal, rebuilding fallen societies. In the field of transitional justice there is much debate of how these paradigms can, if at all work together. I believe that the only way that transitional justice can be reached is through retributive and reparative justice.
Retributive justice involves trials and punishments towards the people responsible. The rationale behind this paradigm is 1) wrong doings need to be acknowledged so that they will not be repeated in the future, 2) the perpetrator should be held accountable and punished, 3) the effect of deterring society, and 4) emphasizing the power of the justice system. The benefit of trials correctly shows how to solve conflicts and maintain order within a community. It also acknowledges the difference between individual guilt and collective group guilt. Essentially singling out solely the people responsible and keeping others innocent.
For restorative justice the main goal is to bring the victims and the guilty party back together into the community. In contrast to retributive form of justice where the focus is on the perpetrator, restorative empowers the victims and seeks to provide some sort of dignity back to them. The mechanism behind restorative justice is truth commissions which are executed and run by the national government or the international community. What victims want to hear is the truth and to hear the criminals admit to their crimes.
Reparative justice works to fix and repair the damage done. One approach to mending a broken state is through an official apology. Issuing an apology is beneficial in the sense that the perpetrator takes responsibility for the victim’s suffering and the pain caused. Pain can be physical, emotional and mental. Another benefit is that an apology can alleviate the bitterness towards the criminals. Vindication can also be achieved along with diminishing any related trauma the victims may have. The second approach is through compensation in hopes to get forgiveness for wrongs.
Although these forms of justice may seem to be the answer, they are also flawed. As stated before, the advantage of retributive justice is finding who is at fault then punishing them. However one problem this paradigm has is that these trials can take a long time to get through because the perpetrators are usually a large group. Justice will not be reached in a timely manner, which can also anger the victims more. These trials are also costly and expensive to run. The national government may not always have the funds to provide trials. Monetary funds are the same problem the international community faces as well. The advantage of restorative justice is that it verifies the actual events and the truth behind the crimes. The disadvantage of this method is that people can claim to be telling the truth but in reality are just lying to put someone responsible even if that person is not guilty of anything. The advantage of reparative justice is that it seeks to find peace and a chance for victims to accept and acknowledge the wrongs committed by perpetrators. One major flaw to this form of justice is that victim’s may feel that there is no amount of compensation even in terms of money that can account for the loss of a family member or make them forget what has happened.
All three paradigms of transitional justice support the responsibility to protect, emphasizing that these crimes can never be repeated again in the future. Only