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Implementing Reparations in the Al Mahdi Case: A Story of Monumental Challenges in Timbuktu

Lostal, Marina (2021) 'Implementing Reparations in the Al Mahdi Case: A Story of Monumental Challenges in Timbuktu.' Journal of International Criminal Justice, 19 (4). ISSN 1478-1387

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The city of Timbuktu evokes remoteness and, since 2012, chaos and destruction. During an armed conflict in the north of Mali, radicals took over the city and destroyed several of its mausoleums. One of the perpetrators, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, was convicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his participation in the destruction of 10 religious and historic buildings. The unprecedented nature of the Al Mahdi case led to an equally unprecedented question at the reparations phase: who are the victims of cultural heritage destruction and how should their harm be addressed? Drawing from the author’s personal involvement in the case as an appointed expert, this article is a journey into how this question was resolved and the practical challenges it posed during the implementation phase. These challenges, while specific to the Al Mahdi case, provide a framework to demonstrate the level of complexity involved in the implementation of reparations. The article focuses on three ‘monumental’ challenges: (i) whether ‘unborn children’ should be included in the pool of victims given that cultural heritage is meant to be preserved for the benefit of future generations; (ii) what place women ought to occupy in the implementation of reparations, despite the customary practices of side-lining them; and (iii) the decision of whether to memorialize events surrounding the crime. On the latter challenge, the article introduces the concept of ‘restorative agency’, a working principle that was adopted to ensure memorialization practices reflect the experience of victims. Incidentally, this article reveals some of the work of the Trust Fund for Victims, one of the ICC’s least comprehended creations, and briefly discusses the role of experts during implementation moving forward.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Reparations; Al Mahdi; International Criminal Court; Implementation; Timbuktu
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 09:36
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2022 15:06

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