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Retributive or reparative justice? Explaining post-conflict preferences in Kenya

This study adds nuance to the empirical literature that interrogates the link between exposure to mass violence and post-conflict justice preferences.

Eamon Aloyo, Geoff Dancy, Yvonne Dutton
01 June 2022
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In this publication, the authors focus on post-conflict and post-atrocity justice preferences. They do this by presenting evidence that supports the theory that victims and witnesses of mass atrocities in Kenya prefer retributive justice over reparative justice when called upon to choose between the two. It claims that this finding holds regardless of one’s income level. Victims and witnesses prioritize justice and the potential for the psychological benefits they expect should their abusers be held accountable. Victims might prefer a post-conflict intervention that comprised both retributive and compensatory justice. However, in most post-conflict situations, resources are limited, requiring the post-conflict state and the international community to choose certain interventions. Furthermore, the study displays the powerful pull that victimization has on one’s post-conflict justice preferences: victims prefer criminal accountability even when it means that their own co-ethnics may face punishment.

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