Relationship Between Amnesty and Justice…A Constant Struggle
February 20, 2014
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Successful amnesty is viewed as a significant way to reach the desirable goal of reintegrating perpetrators. In the process of granting amnesties efforts to uncover the past are disillusioned, and memories of the past are left to simmer and possibly be re-ignited causing future violence. When leaders of war crimes are granted amnesty the victims who underwent horrible atrocities whom see the perpetrator receive compensation for the harm they themselves underwent, in turn leads victims to feel that justice has not been met. Amnesty from the Greek root Amnestia, literally means to forget. Is it fair for the court to grant amnesties and push the victims to simply forget what has happened to them? I think the reason behind granting amnesties is more political than social. Example of political amnesty (political incentive to promote peace) Charles Taylor. Self-given political amnesty classic case April 1978 General Pinochet introduced a tailor-made amnesty law that covered crimes and misdemeanors committed since the coup of 1973.
The ICC chief prosecutor Bensouda in regard to Libya trying the case of Gaddafi and Senussi advocates that Libya have the right to implement its own judicial system and conduct a fair trial however she urges Libya should not grant amnesty for the war crimes committed. She formally stated,
“My Office takes note of Law 38, granting amnesty at the national level for “acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution”; as well as Law 35, which purportedly ensures that any act found to be in contravention of international laws and human rights covenants will not be exempt. I encourage the new Libyan government, scheduled to be sworn in the coming days, to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crimes and no impunity for crimes, regardless of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim”
It is interesting that she outright states Libya should not grant Gaddfi and Senussi amnesty. Perhaps this is her way of aligning justice for the victims as a higher objective than political peace.
Questions that I want to continue thinking about include: are amnesties capable of securing justice and what power do amnesties have in the eyes of perpetrators? (especially when they know amnesty can be retracted such as in the case of Charles Taylor)