On October 4th, AFJN Staff and Interns met with Betty Bigombe to discuss restorative justice. Bigombe, currently a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute for Peace, is renowned for her mediation efforts in northern Uganda. Since the early 1990’s, Bigombe has sought to end the insurgency in the north by engaging in dialogue with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda.
AFJN has begun a series of new focus campaigns, one of which is restorative justice. We invited Ms. Bigombe to join us for lunch and to discuss traditional means of resolving conflicts, particularly in northern Uganda. She expressed deep concern over the debate between criminal justice (punishment through the International Criminal Court) and transitional justice (punishment through ceremonial recompense, such as Mato Oput, within a community). Bigombe highlighted the need for both forms of justice in resolving the conflict of the north.
At AFJN, we believe that restorative justice is one of the most effective means of repairing a torn society. The western style of criminal justice may punish the perpetrator, but it does not address the grievances of the community. It is our hope that the United States will begin to recognize this important distinction and will be willing to support African communities in their efforts to bring justice to their own people.