Reparations for ‘guilty victims’: Navigating Complex Identities of Victim-Perpetrators in Reparation Mechanisms

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Reparations are often declared victim-centred, but in transitional societies defining who is a victim and eligible for reparations can be a politically charged and controversial process. Added to this, the messy reality of conflict means that perpetrators and victims do not always fall in two separate categories. Instead in certain circumstances perpetrators can be victimised and victims can be responsible for victimising others. This article explores complex victims, who are responsible for victimising others, but have themselves been unlawfully victimised. Looking in particular at the 1993 Shankill bombing in Northern Ireland, as well as Colombia and Peru, such complex victims are often seen as ‘guilty’ or ‘bad’ victims undeserving of reparations. This article argues that complex victims need to be included in reparation mechanisms to ensure accountability and to prevent their exclusion becoming a source of victimisation and future violence. It considers alternative avenues of human rights courts, development aid, services and community reparations to navigate complex identities of victim-perpetrators. In concluding the author finds that complex identities can be accommodated in transitional societies reparation programmes through nuanced rules of eligibility and forms of reparations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-167
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Issue number1
Early online date04 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Victims
  • Perpetrators
  • Reparations
  • Northern Ireland
  • Peru
  • Colombia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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