Laura Acosta Zárate and Ricardo Medina-Rico at Justice Visions

March 22, 2024 by Patricia Doherty

CrimSL PhD candidate Laura Acosta Zárate and Research Analyst Ricardo Medina-Rico participated in the Justice Visions conference held March 13-16, 2024 at Ghent University.

Laura presented "Childhood Exposure to Wartime Practices: Shifting Perspectives on Criminal Responsibility and Complex Political Victims" and Ricardo acted as discussant for the panel session entitled "The Distributional Outcomes Crafted by Transitional Architecture: Victim-Centered Spaces in Colombia’s Transitional Processes, Debates and Institutions" on March 14.

Laura's abstract is shown below.

Childhood Exposure to Wartime Practices: Shifting Perspectives on Criminal Responsibility and Complex Political Victims

Laura Acosta Zarate, PhD student, University of Toronto

This presentation reflects upon the powerful impact that exposure to wartime practices during childhood has on the understanding of a person’s subsequent forms of criminal behavior and wrongdoing. The perspective on the criminal responsibility of former combatants recruited during their childhood to participate in hostilities has undergone a recent shift. These individuals now serve as paradigmatic examples of complex political victims, representing individuals who simultaneously bear the roles of victims and perpetrators. Drawing on legal and criminological insights and reflecting upon the Colombian transitional process, the presentation examines how this intricate group of individuals interact with participatory spaces designed for victims traditionally understood as ‘pure.’ The presentation explores how understandings and meanings of wrongdoing are formed, contested, and negotiated in participatory spaces where complex political victims -such as former child combatants- are present, by engaging with particular cases of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Particularly, the presentation considers the interaction between participatory spaces and risk factors encountered during distinct developmental phases in shaping an individual’s understanding of wrongdoing.

Social media posts

Ricardo and Laura each posted about their experiences on social media.

Ricardo posted on LinkedIn:

"I had the best academic experience of my life. I was honored to discuss the panel "The Distributional Outcomes Crafted by Transitional Architecture: Victim-centered Spaces in Colombia’s Transitional Processes, Debates, and Institutions” at Ghent University. The speakers, Laura Acosta Zarate, Juan Camilo Rivera Rugeles, and Yuri Alexander Romaña Rivas, and the speaker, chair, (and mastermind of this panel) Anamaría Muñoz Rincón, were fantastic. Their thoughts were groundbreaking and eye-opening." --- LinkedIn post by Ricardo Medina Rico, March 15, 2024

Laura said on X:


About Justice Visions: Justice for Victims in Transitional Societies

"The question of how to serve justice, facilitate peaceful transitions and empower victims of past large-scale abuses is about as old as the field of transitional justice (TJ) itself. Increasingly practitioners are turning to participatory approaches as a promising way to make advances regarding each of these issues. An oft-cited benefit of victim participation in TJ processes is that it allegedly increases the legitimacy of these processes by rendering them more locally relevant, and that it empowers participants and turns them into ambassadors of the justice process." -

The Justice Visions project is funded by the European Research Council (VictPart 804154), the Special Research Fund (iBOF/21/031), the Fulbright Foundation, and the FWO.