No.17 To Punish or to Pardon?
Kristen Kao and Mara Redlich Revkin
Rebel groups that govern territory require the support of large numbers of civilians. After conflict ends, these civilians are often perceived as rebel collaborators. Yet, we know relatively little about what victimized populations think is the appropriate response to collaborators. This gap in our knowledge has serious implications for the durability of peace. Through experiments embedded in an original survey of Mosul, an Iraqi city that experienced governance by the Islamic State, we identify the effects of hypothetical collaborators' (1) identity traits and (2) type of collaboration on preferences for punishment, forgiveness, and reintegration. Contrary to the government's harsh and indiscriminate approach to prosecuting collaborators, participants prefer more lenient punishments—or no punishment—for some. We find that the nature of collaboration matters more than the identity of the collaborator. Our design helps identify the conditions under which former rebel collaborators may be successfully reintegrated into post-conflict societies.