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COLLECTIVE REPARATION FOR VICTIMS OF ARMED CONFLICTS: NEED OF THE HOUR


Author: Prachi Singh, V Year of B.B.A.,LL.B(Hons.) From Amity law school Noida, Amity University.


Background

In an idealistic world, our society should be peaceful and devoid of violence and conflict. It is not necessary to go to space to experience harmony or serenity which resides within space. Nevertheless, being social creatures, we must socialize. This engagement and interaction between humans is among the factors that set us apart from other creatures. However, when we connect, we find out that resources are scarce, our means are constrained, and our demands are endless. We find that every interest of human is not harmonized. Consequently, a state conflict of interests ensues.


This creates an environment characterized by competition for these limited resources due to our competing interests. This tension develops into enmity and may eventually escalate to hostility disputes. It is the foundation upon which wars are waged. Nations reduced to rubies and great civilizations continue to flourish removed from the earth's surface. The human race never improves as a result of these competing objectives. However, because people are a recurring constant, this struggle is without end boundary. All of it demonstrates that legislation could only be created to govern people's behavior and actions; what a person is capable of doing, on the other hand, is outside the purview of any law that is currently in effect. In other words, the International Humanitarian Law is not a law that is imposed in order to prevent armed conflicts; rather, it is a law that is imposed in order to regulate belligerent forces when they do engage in armed conflicts with the goal of alleviating the suffering that is caused to living beings, the surroundings, and humanity as a whole.



What is Reparation?

Multiple regions of the world are currently experiencing active armed conflict, which has resulted in a significant number of casualties.  These victims are not completely defenseless because it is common knowledge that violations of international law require restitution as a form of justice to be served. The establishment of justice in the aftermath of violent conflicts requires the payment of reparations. In recent times, a significant amount of focus has been placed on the issue of whether or not international law recognizes the existence of an individual right to compensation.



What is Collective reparation?

Human rights violations and other international crimes don't just affect individuals; they can also have repercussions for entire communities, racial and ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes. Therefore, when reparations are intended for this group of people, the term "collective reparations" is the one that is most commonly used. "Contemporary forms of victimization, while essentially directed against persons, may nevertheless also be directed against groups of persons who are targeted collectively," as stated in the UN Basic Principles and Regulations on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation document.


The phrase "perpetrated on structurally disadvantaged, persecuted, marginalized, or otherwise discriminated groups" describes the circumstances under which collective harms are committed in many instances. In these types of cases, the victims are members of pre-existing groups, such as those that are racially, ethnically, socially, politically, or religiously distinct. In other circumstances, the common scenario of suffering may serve as the catalyst for the formation and establishment of a community. Still other groups are characterized by their geographical proximity to one another. In any case, it is necessary for victims to view themselves as being a part of a group if they are to have any chance of receiving collective reparations.



Need for Collective Reparation

The current legal ambiguities surrounding collective remedies must not diminish their strong compensatory potential. Communal restitution serves a restorative purpose before all else. Collective restitution is a way of acknowledging the collective that has been harmed by providing compensation to that community. This aids in repairing the damage that has occurred. Unexpectedly, evidence shows that military action survivors occasionally request communal solutions. The act of communal mending extends beyond eradicating the damage's immediate consequences. Instead, it also advances the lengthy objective of creating stable post-conflict civilizations. In the end, initiatives aimed at encouraging peace in military conflict nations seek to foster the cohabitation of survivors and perpetrators.


However, determining what exactly constitutes a group or class may prove to be difficult because, for the purpose of collective remedy, there is no universally accepted definition under international law. Truth commissions have often underlined the importance of collective atonement in this procedure. As a result, the Truth Commission for Timor Leste declared: "This was indivisible from the work of mending relations destroyed by violence as well as of establishing permanent harmony to assist individuals and groups who had endured to heal, and restore their feeling of belonging." The creation of a new society's goal could be delayed by a completely customized claims procedure. This isn't intended to imply that personal restitution must be replaced by social repair. Therefore, by turning to communal repair, several destructive consequences which might come alongside personal restitution could be eliminated.



Forms of Collective Reparation

  1. Restitution

  2. Compensation

  3. Rehabilitation

  4. Satisfaction

  5. Guarantee of non- repetition



Cases of Collective Reparation

In March 2012, Thomas Lubanga, the leader of a Congolese militia, was found guilty of using children under 15 in fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a terrorist act. He was given a punishment of 14 years in prison, which he has to serve in the DRC. The process of making amends began in August 2012. In 2015, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) was told to come up with a draught plan for collective reparations. In October 2016, the plan was approved. In December 2017, Trial Chamber II decided that Mr. Lubanga would have to pay USD $10 million in collective reparations for the harm he caused. Since Mr. Lubanga has been found to be poor, the TFV will carry out the court-ordered reparations.

On March 7, 2014, Mr. Katanga was convicted of being an accomplice to crime against humanity (murder) and four war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging). On May 23, 2014, he was given a 12-year prison sentence. Afterward, his conviction was cut down, and he was freed on January 18, 2016.The Appellate Court instructed compensatory damages to be paid to 297 victims who had been identified. This included a symbolic $250 payment to every guilty party and four group payments to all victims in the form of (1) help with housing, (2) help with education, (3) income-generating activities, and (4) psychological rehabilitation. The Appellate Court told the Trust Fund to come up with a draught plan for putting the person & group honors in the Order for Reparations into action. The Trust Fund was given the job of putting the plan into action.



Conclusion

The recognition of a right to collective atonement gives rise to a number of difficult issues. In no way does the author of this piece intend to imply that the concerns discussed here provide sufficient grounds for the denial of a right to communal restitution. As was demonstrated before, there are some circumstances under which it is possible to think of having such a right. In some cases, on the contrary hand, this appears quite unlikely. Because of this, any subsequent conversation on the subject of a right to collective restitution needs to be maintained beneath extremely cautious monitoring.