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Panel: Historical Abuse, Colonial Violence and Victims’ Mobilisation for Justice

Colonial Violence Heritages and The De-Voiced: Re-Sculpting Participation

Dr. Vicky Kapogianni, Lecturer in EU and International law, Reading Law School, University of Reading
Dr. Benjamin Thorne, Lecturer in Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent

The broadness of transitional justice discourse has generated space for the inclusion of all facets of transitional justice practice, knowledge and institutional vehicles which have been endorsed through core human rights treaties and customary international law. Nonetheless, the reality for participation of colonial violence victims is often contentious, problematic and at worst exclusionary. Despite a common linear understanding of participation, issues of secrecy maintained during the inter-state negotiations (Namibia-Germany) where indigenous people and affected communities right to be part of the processes was banned, and hence de-voiced, urges the shift towards other dynamics that have a more radical, disruptive, or innovative potential and impact. Although extant facets, in principle, do provide a disciplined framework for potential ‘communicative action’(Habermas)–where dialogues over competing claims can be ensued from, where power relationships can be symmetrical, and help mitigate the state-centric and top-down dominance– however, a non-linear participation gestures to more creative and victim-led radical re-imaginations such as art activism and cultural restitution as justice. Push-back to the eliberately de-voiced is evident in transitional justice growing interest in restitution and the ways in which return of stolen cultural heritage can be a form of justice and victims’ participation in bringing this to realisation (Kenya). Innovative and arts-based approaches calling for return has potential for victims to not only be given a voice, via their creative transitional justice entrepreneurship, but also relocate dialogue about the violence caused by colonial looting away from the global north and back to those communities where the violence occurred.

Historical Abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions: A Qualitative Study of Victim-survivors’ Experiences with Redress Procedures

Naomi Ormskerk, MSc. PhD candidate at the University of Humanistic Studies; the Netherlands

Abuse of minors in Catholic institutions is a phenomenon of vast dimensions and universal scope. In the Netherlands, complaint and compensation schemes and mediation procedures were established to provide a procedure offering an alternative to criminal law and civil litigation and to meet the needs of victim-survivors (claimants). These procedures, which can be categorised as institutionalised procedures (initiated by the Church or State) and non-institutionalised procedures (initiated by claimants), incorporate a hybrid procedure where one can file a complaint and a claim for damages or a procedure based on dialogue combined with a financial claim resulting in a verdict without going to court. Nevertheless, few civil court cases were filed by claimants. Both the alternative procedures and the court cases are types of redress. This study seeks to analyse what claimants’ experiences are with Dutch redress procedures and if they are a match with the goals of the proceedings, namely recognition and repair. Claimants’ experiences were assessed through the theoretical lenses of procedural and restorative justice.

Lavvos in Front of the Parliament: The Norwegian TRC and Conflict over Land and Water

Dr. Carola Lingaas, Associate Professor, VID Specialized University
Dr. Anne Margrethe Sønneland, Associate Professor, VID Specialized University

In June 2023, the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its report about the assimilation policies towards the Sámi, Kven and Skogfinn minority populations and the consequences of these policies. The TRC process was initiated by the Sámi indigenous people, and the Parliament decided that there was a need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2018. While the majority population has had – and still has – little knowledge both about the assimilation policies and the TRC process, the TRC did rise expectations of a change in policies towards the Sámi in parts of the Sámi community. A few months before the TRC published its report, the Norwegian Supreme Court came to the decision that the windmill park in Fosen, in central Norway, constituted a violation of the right to culture of the southern Sámi population. 500 days after this decision, Sámi youth and young environmentalists carried out demonstrations in the Department of Justice. 700 days after the decision, a young Sámi decided to occupy the square outside of the Parliament, and raised his lavvo. He was later followed by young Sámi activists with the support of environmentalist groups. The paper will discuss the ways in which the ongoing conflict related to land and water influences on the reconciliation process in the aftermath of the TRC.