Impunity and International Criminal Law: A Case Study on Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina
Human Rights Law Journal, Vol. 18, pp. 1-15, 1997
15 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2011 Last revised: 29 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 29, 1997
Impunity means, above all, the lack of effective remedies for crime victims. In the human rights context it means the lack of - remedies for victims of human rights' violations. A victim centered approach shows the very personal and subjective side of impunity: sitting next to your torturer and feeling powerless. Or even worse: former perpetrators are promoted to posts which give them power above their former victims. Taking a more theoretical and objective approach, impunity hits factual and normative dimensions. Focusing on the normative mechanisms of impunity ("impunity by law" in contrast to "impunity by practice") regarding violations of civil and political rights, the following article analyzes factual and normative impunity in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, and tries to offer normative solutions to overcome it. Special emphasis is paid to the compatibility of national impunity laws and - to a lesser extent - practice with international - criminal law. Starting from the general question of whether a duty to punish serious violations of human rights exists from such a perspective, the countries' impunity Iaws, the military justice system and the superior order concept, are examined against the background of international criminal law obligations. Finally, conclusions and recommendations are drawn.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation