Victim Participation in Transitional Justice Mechanisms: Real Power or Empty Ritual?

Victim Participation in Transitional Justice Mechanisms: Real Power or Empty Ritual?

Monday, 8 June 2015 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building
Rudina Jasini (University of Oxford)
Southeast Asia Events in Oxford


With scholarship and practice in transitional justice ever evolving, the ECCC’s innovative approach to allowing victims of alleged atrocities to participate directly in proceedings as civil parties, and not just as witnesses, has revealed potential strengths and weaknesses, as well as possible future directions of development in transitional justice. Whilst the benefits of participation – affording victims greater procedural rights and substantive remedies – appear self-evident, there is limited jurisprudential and empirical evidence to support many of the supposed benefits. Also, the negative impact of victim participation, including the potential damaging consequences of participation for victims, affected communities and transitional justice in Cambodia, requires more thorough evaluation and understanding. Although a number of important empirical studies conducted in recent years have contributed to a better understanding of participation in practice, nonetheless, victim participation as a novelty in transitional justice remains underexplored. The research underlying this talk aims to offer practical understanding of, and insights into, the assumed benefits and harms resulting from victim participation, building on a normative and empirical examination of the implications of the incorporation of victim participation as a restorative justice element into a retributive justice mechanism. The ways in which civil party participation has been interpreted and shaped in the trials before the ECCC is critically examined by analysing how the rights of victims to remedies for gross violations of human rights have been dealt with by the ECCC, and by evaluating, on a more specific level, how such participation has shaped victims’ perceptions, attitudes and experiences. It specifically examines how participation has helped victims obtain justice from within; seek truth through participation by learning more about the regime and the motivations behind the crimes committed; foster reconciliation, and equally importantly, obtain meaningful reparations through participation. The research aims to contribute depth and dimension to the general understanding of victim participation in transitional justice mechanisms.


Rudina Jasini is reading for a DPhil in Law. Her doctoral research centres on the participation of victims of gross violations of human rights as civil parties in international criminal proceedings. Rudina has recently completed a research project with Impunity Watch on victim participation in transitional justice in Cambodia. In the course of her DPhil, Rudina has pursued both a Visiting Researcher programme at Harvard Law School (2012 - 2013) and at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (2012). She has taught tutorials in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at New College and Christ Church at Oxford University. She is the recipient of numerous academic awards and the author of several peer-reviewed articles on international justice. She has presented her work at various conferences and symposiums, including at the University of Cambridge, Harvard Law School, Columbia University, New York University, The New School, and the 14th International Symposium of the World Society of Victimology in The Hague. Whilst her research has been a primarily intellectual endeavour, it has also been strongly influenced by her professional background as a practitioner. Prior to coming to Oxford, Rudina worked for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague as a legal officer on the Defence Team in the case of Haradinaj et al. In March 2009, she worked pro bono with the legal team providing representation and assistance to victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, in the prosecution of Kaing Geuk Eav (a/k/a Duch). Rudina holds an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Oxford (2009), an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Center (2006) and a B.A. in Law from the University of Tirana (2001).