Sierra Leone

The Fortunate Ones and the Ones Still Waiting: Reparations for War Victims in Sierra Leone

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Latest PRIF Report evaluates the reparations program conducted after the civil war in Sierra Leone

Between 1991 and 2002 civil war prevailed in Sierra Leone with a terrible outcome: More than 50,000 people were killed during the war and thousands more suffer from long-lasting consequences, from amputations and mutilations, sexual abuse and displacement. The concept of reparations is hoped to be able to provide a way back into a regular life with dignity. An individual 'right to reparations' thus is seen as an important feature of victims' rights following a violent conflict and has been codified as a principle in international law. Reparations are seen as a means of compensation for injustice as well as a way to promote a new relationship between state and population, where the state is perceived as democratic and responsive. To this end the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund financed a reparations program in Sierra Leone, including one-time relief payments, medical operations, vocational training and micro-grants.

In PRIF Report No. 129 The Fortunate Ones and the Ones Still Waiting: Reparations for War Victims in Sierra Leone, Eva Ottendörfer examines the design and implementation of the reparations program conducted in Sierra Leone between 2008 and 2013. She confronts the hopes and promises attributed to the program with its actual effects. Due to the high number of victims specific target-groups have benefitted most from the program, leaving other victim groups with a reinforced sense of injustice and shaking their confidence in the state. The author concludes with recommendations for governments as well as for international organizations und makes the case for a more realistic view on advantages and disadvantages of reparations, which is not fraught with expectations.

This PRIF Report is available at PRIF for 10 € or as free PDF download.