Moving Forward Traditional Justice and Victim Participation in Northern Uganda

"Traditional justice practices are increasingly considered as a potential mechanism for conflict resolution and transitional justice. Northern Uganda is a case in point: traditional justice practices such as Mato Oput are about to be used for resolving war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during 22 years of conflict. Unfortunately traditional rituals and ceremonies are often presented in their ‘ancient’ and ‘archaic’ formats as they used to be practised in the past. Yet times have changed: new conflicts including mass atrocities have sprung up and new generations have been born who are not familiar with traditional practices. This has led traditional mechanisms to be viewed by many as at best supplementary to more direct western justice models. In moving forward, we need to ask whether traditional justice mechanisms can evolve and be adapted to take into consideration contemporary realities on the ground in ways which can complement the limitations of more standard forms of transitional justice."