Between punishment and impunity: Public support for reactions against perpetrators in Guatemala, Nepal and Northern Ireland
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Transitional Justice. 2019, 13 (1), 155-184. 10.1093/ijtj/ijy032
A recent development within the study of transitional justice (TJ) has been a move from formal institutions and their effectiveness to an emerging victim-centred approach to TJ mechanisms. This shift makes it more salient to understand the preferences of different groups in the postconflict population. Building on the growing literature about people’s preferences in postconflict contexts, we analyze public support for reactions against perpetrators, ranging from amnesty to punishment. We argue that previous conflict experience, such as victimhood and former participation, influences how people evaluate such mechanisms, and that group identities developed or strengthened during the conflict are particularly important. To test the argument, we use comparative survey data from Guatemala, Nepal and Northern Ireland. We find that overall, victims are not more prone to support for punitive reactions against perpetrators, while group identities developed or strengthened during the conflict remain strongly associated with preferences for punishment.