Chapter

NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE? THE AMNESTY QUANDARY

William Schabas

in Unimaginable Atrocities

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653072
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739361 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653072.003.0008
NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE? THE AMNESTY QUANDARY

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Amnesty is defined as ‘an act of forgetfulness, an intentional overlooking, a general pardon, esp. for a political offence’. It has long figured in peace agreements, including the mother of all international treaties, the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone considered whether the prohibition of amnesty in its Statute was actually a rule of international law of more general application. It took the view that amnesty was ‘not only incompatible with, but is in breach of an obligation of a state towards the international community as a whole’. There have been similar pronouncements from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where the obligation is presented as a right of victims rather than a duty to the international community. If indeed the prohibition of amnesty is an affirmative rule of international law, where did it come from and what are its exact parameters?

Keywords: international law; amnesty; Special Court for Sierra Leone; obligation

Chapter.  11864 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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