Investigations, Prosecutions and Amnesties Under Articles 2 & 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
40 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2015
There is clear jurisprudence on the procedural obligations on states to investigate alleged violations of Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has not yet been asked to rule directly on the status of an amnesty law under the Convention. It has, however, made some general comments on amnesties in a small number of cases. Drawing on this case law, together with the Court’s judgments on the procedural obligations arising from Articles 2 and 3, the report explores the circumstances in which the Court could find amnesties to be permissible. This report argues that the Court has developed a bifurcated approach, whereby amnesties that prevent prosecutions for violations, such as torture or ‘massive human rights violations’ that can also be considered international crimes are subject to greater scrutiny than amnesties that cover only Convention violations. Nonetheless, the report argues that the Court has left open the possibility that amnesties even for the most serious offences could be acceptable in some circumstances, such as a reconciliation process and/or a form of compensation to the victims. This report is produced as part of AHRC-funded project on Amnesties, Prosecutions, and the Public Interest in the Northern Ireland Transition.
Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, right to life, freedom from torture, amnesties, duty to investigate, duty to prosecute
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