The Question Of Amnesty: Balancing Truth And Justice

3268 words - 14 pages

Amnesties and the Views of Victims
For many victims of violence, human rights advocates and many others affected by human rights violations, amnesties represent the basest of pragmatic accommodations with former despots, murderers, and torturers. At first thought, amnesties do not give the impression of working at the victim’s favor but for the benefit of political leaders, elites and the perpetrators themselves. When societies accept amnesty, victims assume a position of forgetting the past actions of military and political power for the concept of forgiveness. Rights such as truth and justice are sacrificed for political stability. Where amnesties deny victims their rights to truth, ...view middle of the document...

For example, amnesties are combined with other transitional justice mechanisms, including prosecutions, truth commissions, vetting programs, and reparations measures. Given the preponderance of amnesties in peacemaking efforts and the developments in the international standards which regulate what may or may not be included in such measures, a more balanced approach to the amnesty issue is required in order to bridge more effectively the peace and justice divide.

Amnesty as a Response to National and International Responsibility
Transitional justice involves questions and complications concerning how to heal and restore whole societies. The vindication of victims significantly eases the tension between justice and the politics of making peace. Achieving “world peace” is ideal but not always realistic. When simply looking at where an amnesty has widespread democratic support, including the backing of victims’ groups, international courts should balance this support against other criteria by which an amnesty is evaluated (Mallinder 221). The rulings of international courts can affect national amnesties by clarifying the extent of a state’s obligations under international law. Amnesty could, however, violate the states’ obligations under international law to guarantee the victims’ right to a remedy, including their right to truth, to see the offenders prosecuted and punished, and to obtain reparations.
Individual states can provide aid or information to assist investigations, cooperate with tribunals, ratify treaties, and implement them in domestic legislation, contribute peacekeepers, or apply diplomatic pressure. In addition, supranational institutions such as the United Nations (UN), NATO, African Union (AU), European Union (EU), and the World Bank can carry considerable influence within transitional states. The United Nations have often been involved in mediating peace agreements with amnesty provisions. The involvement of the international community in amnesty processes, however, has been inconsistent . This makes sense because all amnesty cases vary in severity and number of people involved. Studying national judgments also contributes to attempts to assess the efficacy of amnesty laws in contributing to peace and reconciliation by revealing how the law is implemented. Some countries have even declined to intervene in other countries’ transitions, so ICC may get involved because they are compatible with reconciliation processes that grant amnesty to human rights abusers. Some cases may need involvement of a Security Council resolution to garner more widespread international support, but international actors to amnesty laws still impact both the domestic legitimacy of amnesty law and the development of customary international law. A degree of selectivity can result from strategic interest of the international community, especially with countries that have valuable resources. Rather than risk prolonging crises, international actors get...

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