Ryan Lobo talked about three of his projects at a recent TED conference. The first story Lobo told stopped me in my tracks.

Lobo photographed Joshua, a man formerly known as General Buttnaked, who had committed heinous crimes against humanity during Liberia’s civil war. Joshua is now a baptised evangelist and as he entered villages across Liberia again, he did so not to destroy them but to ask for forgiveness.

The level of forgiveness that he asks for is galling to the Western mind. 10,000 lives. The ask itself is cruel.

During the war Joshua fought naked (hence the name). He murdered, raped and tortured thousands of Liberians. He corrupted hundreds of youngsters inducting them into war, enforcing his command over the boy-soldiers with unspeakable brutality. They are now destitute; many addicted to drugs. Heroin is commonly abused.

Joshua spoke from a soap box to crowds often including his victims. Lobo admits he thought Joshua would be killed by the mob in a short time after beginning the tour.

But Joshua was not killed.

How do we tally this story of redemption (if that term is not obnoxious in this instance) and this version of restorative engagement between perpetrator and victim with our Western codes of justice?

And as Lobo asks, does forgiveness replace justice?

I have no answers.