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Victim participation in Tunisia’s transitional justice reparations program: Mechanisms and impact

Victim participation is at the heart of transitional justice debates. However, a victim centred approach that looks into the effect of the participation on the victims specifically remains relatively absent in practice. The recent Tunisian TJ experience incorporated a participatory approach toward designing the reparations programmes for the victims, by implementing national comprehensive consultations. The Tunisian process is also lauded for its focus on economic, social and cultural rights and the expansion of its mandate to include financial crimes. This innovative approach to reparations makes Tunisia a fitting case to explore the questions raised in this project. This study seeks to examine the scope and mechanisms of victims’ participation in the TJ reparations programme, and the effect
of that participation on the victims, their perceptions, their experiences, their expectations and the TJ process outcomes.

Through a social constructivist approach, and employing a critical discourse analysis , this study will explore the knowledge formation process of the victims. It will analyse the different discourses surrounding TJ and if – or how – the interaction between the different actors led to the re-shaping of the formal discours, or a change in the views of the victims. As part of the larger ERC project, the Tunisia case study will also include quantitative and experimental components. This multi-method approach where the different components complement each other, facilitates delving into, and measuring the impact of the participation on the victims-participants and their communities. By focusing on the Tunisian case, this project will make a contribution to debates around TJ, human rights, legal studies and international relations in the MENA region.