Perpetrators' Confessions

Susan Eva Eckstein and Timothy P. Wickham-Crowley

in What Justice? Whose Justice?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520237445
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936980 | DOI:
Perpetrators' Confessions

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Truth-finding mechanisms have become popular instruments for redressing injustices perpetuated by erstwhile repressive regimes in Latin America. This chapter focuses on an extremely contentious part of this process, and perpetrators' confession and its effect on the progress of the truth-finding projects. Confessions contribute to restorative justice, that is, restoring wholeness to the lives and relationships of victims of criminal offenses. By exposing the truth through perpetrators' confessions, governments publicly acknowledge past wrongs, and sometimes even accept responsibility for crimes committed by past regimes. In addition, perpetrators' confessions may provide the only conclusive evidence that makes it possible for governments to issue legal death certificates and to expunge criminal records fabricated by past authoritarian regimes. Four instances of Argentine confessions constitute the database of this inquiry. Exposing state terrorism in retrospection relegates the difficult times to history and hence accelerates societal healing at present.

Keywords: perpetrators' confession; conclusive evidence; societal healing; death certificate; restorative justice

Chapter.  10633 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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