Addressing 'Colonial Crimes' Through Reparations?

Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 10, 693-705 (2012)

11 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2012

Date Written: October 21, 2012


In 2011, Dutch history came to the court room. In the so called Rawagede case, reparations were asked to the Dutch state for mass executions committed on 9 December 1947 in Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule. In an unanticipated judgement delivered on 14 September 2011, the Hague Court of First Instance declared the Dutch massacre in Rawagede wrongful, set aside existing statutory limitations, and held that reparations should be awarded to victims. This judgment is taken as an opportunity to discuss some more general questions concerning retroactivity, statutory limitations in civil versus criminal cases and the question whether articulations of regret and the donation of development aid can be considered as specific expressions of an effective remedy. This article argues that the judgement does not directly contribute to state practice in the formation of a concrete rule of customary international law on statutory limitations in reparation cases concerning international crimes. The importance of this case can rather be found at the meta level in that it functioned as a leverage for the Dutch state and society to revisit its colonial past.

Keywords: International Law, International Criminal Law, International Crimes, Reparations, Colonial Crimes, Indonesia, Rawagede

Suggested Citation

van den Herik, Larissa, Addressing 'Colonial Crimes' Through Reparations? (October 21, 2012). Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 10, 693-705 (2012), Available at SSRN:

Larissa Van den Herik (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, Zuid Holland 2300 RA

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics