Should We Ever Say Never? Arguments Against Granting Amnesty Tested

Victimological approaches to international crimes, Intersentia

35 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020

Date Written: May 9, 2011


In this chapter I will explore why advocates of criminal prosecution deem granting amnesty to serious perpetrators of international crimes no longer acceptable. What arguments do (often legal) scholars, NGOs, journalists and policy makers use to substantiate their claims? And how convincing are these arguments? I will firstly identify the various arguments that are most often used. Secondly, I will assess to what extent it is possible to test whether these arguments hold true. I will illustrate this by analysing the effects of amnesties granted in Mozambique, Angola and Uganda. It leads me to the conclusion that certain assumed negative effects of amnesties cannot be observed in these three countries. Either because no indicators of the assumed negative effects in the countries exist, or because no indicators can be found resulting from a paucity of reliable data. And when indicators of the assumed effects are found, it proves impossible to establish a causal relation between certain observed indicators and the granting of amnesty.

Keywords: Amnesty, Peace, War, Angola, Uganda, Mozambique

Suggested Citation

Wijk, Joris, Should We Ever Say Never? Arguments Against Granting Amnesty Tested (May 9, 2011). Victimological approaches to international crimes, Intersentia, Available at SSRN: or

Joris Wijk (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV

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