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2012 | International Center for Transitional Justice, Briefing Paper, Reparations for Northern Uganda: Addressing the Needs of Victims of Affected Communities

This paper recounts what participants during a two-day ICTJ training in northern Uganda said would be the best way to address victims’ reparative needs. 

Participants found that victims in northern Uganda urgently need interim reparations and that at the same time policy makers need to put in place comprehensive long-term reparations to respond to the physical, mental and economic harms suffered. It was emphasised that the harms exacerbate and are exacerbated by the extreme poverty in which victims live, which is all the more reason to provide reparations as soon as possible.

Urgent interim reparations

Some categories of victims were prioritised for reparations on the basis of special or urgent needs, particularly victims with physical and mental disabilities or deformities and victims of sexual and gender violence (both female and male). Interim reparations for these groups should include medical treatment, psychosocial counseling, livelihood support and legal assistance with land ownership and inheritance problems. 

Long-term comprehensive reparations

Victims often suffer from complex forms of harm that need to be addressed by long-term benefits, rehabilitation and care that encourage communal reconciliation and address disruptions in income, education and subsistence. These reparations can be material and symbolic; collective and individual; and monetary payments and services. 

The need to differentiate reparations and development assistance

Government development programmes, such as the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) should not be labelled or considered as reparations. Victims expressed a desire for greater clarity between the two. Reparations necessarily need to include a state recognition of formal responsibility for the harms suffered. Without, the goals of reparations, such as healing and the restoration of trust, will be not be achieved.