A Limited Amnesty? Insights from Cambodia

39 Pages Posted: 31 May 2012 Last revised: 3 Jan 2014

See all articles by Ronald C. Slye

Ronald C. Slye

Seattle University School of Law; Independent

Date Written: 2012


The debate about amnesties tends to be a zero sum one – either an amnesty is allowed, or it is not. This article draws upon emerging state practice with respect to amnesties granted decades ago to develop a concept of “limited amnesty.” A limited amnesty consists of an immediate amnesty to wrongdoers, protecting them from civil and criminal liability. The amnesty is however limited in time. At the end of the amnesty period – perhaps five or ten years – the individual who received the amnesty is evaluated for his or her contribution to peace, reconciliation, truth, and justice. State practice indicates that amnesties given immediately in the name of securing peace are often successfully challenged – either domestically or internationally – thus exposing the recipient to eventual accountability. This article suggests that such state practice should be codified, and uses the example of Cambodia as a contemporary example of how such a limited amnesty might work. Finally the article argues that a limited amnesty balances the demands of an immediate transition with the imperatives of justice that advances the policy objectives of both positions.

Keywords: Amnesty, International Criminal Law, Cambodia, Transitional Justice

Suggested Citation

Slye, Ronald C. and Slye, Ronald C., A Limited Amnesty? Insights from Cambodia (2012). Cambridge University Press, 2012, Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 12-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2071431

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