Victim participation in informal transitional justice processes in DRC - report
8 June 2022: To protect victims and witnesses of mass atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the government should urgently support both formal and informal justice processes, according to new research by Impunity Watch and ULPGL Goma (Free University of the Great Lakes Region).
The research examines the most prominent informal transitional justice mechanism in DRC, the ‘Barza Intercommunautaire’, which is rooted in ancestral practices that focus on mediation and restoring peace. It looks at how victims and survivors are using the Barza in the absence of formal justice processes, and the challenges that impede their participation.
The DRC is marked by 32 years of military dictatorship and more than 20 years of armed conflicts characterised by absolute power, violent suppression of dissent, and a brutal one-party rule. The DRC is marked by 32 years of military dictatorship (characterised by absolute power, violent suppression of dissent, and a brutal one-party rule) and more than 20 years of armed conflicts.
Despite some transitional justice experiences such as the Sovereign National Conference and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, countless victims are still waiting for justice.
In the absence of, and as a complement to an envisaged formal transitional justice path in the DRC, the Barza Intercommunautaire remains an important tool to bring divided communities together.
The Barza should be supported alongside formal mechanisms, such as criminal justice, reparation, truth-seeking and guarantees of non recurrence.
Recommendations from the research were based on input from 42 key informants and 15 focus group discussions and include strategies to provide a gender-inclusive approach to support victims and embed the Barza Intercommunautaire into the grassroots.
This research is part of a broader multi-year comparative research project entitled ‘Promoting access to justice through victim participation: Foregrounding informal processes’, implemented by Impunity Watch and research teams from six countries: the DRC, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Syria, and Tunisia.
The project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
Download the report here:
And watch a video on the subject of victim participation in informal justice processes here.
Image: Getty Images