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Title: The effectiveness of restorative justice in preventing children's participation in armed conflict in North Kivu Province, the Democratic Republic of Congo : a participatory action research
Authors: Kiyala, Jean Chrysostome Kimbuku 
Issue Date: 2016
While children used as soldiers are primarily perceived as victims under internal human rights law and international humanitarian rights law, they also commit war atrocities. In the aftermath of war, the mainstream justice system internationally targets warlords, who abduct and enrol children as combatants, leaving child perpetrators without accounting for their gross, human rights violations. Attempts to prosecute child soldiers through the mainstream justice system have resulted in child rights abuses. Where no accountability measures have been taken, former child soldiers have experienced rejection by their communities. Eventually, some have returned to armed conflict. In other contexts, locally based restorative transitional justice has yielded positive outcomes, such as reconciliation, satisfaction expressed by victims and reintegration into the community. This inquiry used restorative justice peacemaking circles (RJPCs), as a model of transitional justice for former child soldiers. Restorative justice evaluation was based on its outcomes. The intervention was efficient as observed: (1) the greater majority of children below the age of 18 (97.2 %) exposed to RJPCs, who intended to join armed groups before, changed their mind and never joined or re-joined armed groups after seven months; (2) apologies by former child soldiers were accepted and they were forgiven, and (3) support for prosecution of child soldiers dropped after RJPCs. In addition, Baraza emerged as an existing model of accountability, conflict resolution and prevention and reconciliation. Unfortunately, it was not exploited to its fullest capacity. Finally healing former child soldiers was a critical step towards change of identity, the transition from soldiering to civilian life, necessary for meaningful reintegration into society. That implied addressing these child soldiers’ psychosocial well-being and creating an environment where peace prevails and adequate accountability measures are in place and effective. The overall results reveal that RJPC yielded empathy, vicarious justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, and deterrence of child soldiers.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree Doctor of Technology: Public Management (Peacebuilding), Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2016.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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