Exploring the Practice of States Introducing Amnesty
University of Ulster - Transitional Justice Institute
June 1, 2008
BUILDING A FUTURE ON PEACE AND JUSTICE: STUDIES ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE, CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT - THE NUREMBERG DECLARATION ON PEACE AND JUSTICE, Kai Ambos, Judith Large, Marieke Wierda, eds., Springer, Berlin 2008
Transitional Justice Institute Research
Although amnesty laws have ancient origins, today their use as political tools increasingly triggers protest from human rights activists, who argue that amnesties for serious violations of human rights are prohibited under customary international law. These claims will be assessed in this chapter through a systematic cross-country analysis of amnesties since the Second World War. This chapter will use the Amnesty Law Database, which was created by the author, to explore state practice and place considerations of the legal framework against impunity within a factual context. It will highlight patterns in state practice such as the relationship between amnesties and truth commissions, and explore whether states are moving away from granting amnesty for crimes under international law. This chapter will argue that there is a wide disparity in state practice relating to the types of amnesty laws introduced, with some aiming to provide victims with a remedy, whereas others aim to create complete impunity for perpetrators. The chapter will argue that this disparity indicates that amnesties can be tailored to meet specific strategic and legal objectives. It will conclude by assessing the impact of the relationship between the different forms of amnesty and reconciliation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 74
Keywords: amnesty laws, state practice, duty to prosecute, customary international law, transitional justiceAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 9, 2009 ; Last revised: March 2, 2010
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