Source: (2010) London: Amnesty International Publications

States should recognize that “retributive” justice and “restorative” justice (i.e. criminal justice and truth-seeking mechanisms) do not exclude, but supplement each other. In recent years, a debate has flourished on the possibility to “deal with” crimes under international law using non-judicial mechanisms of accountability, such as truth commissions. Based on the distinction between “retributive” justice and “restorative” justice, some have contended that countries have a choice in deciding “what kind of justice” they may pursue: that they may decide not to conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions of crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and rather concentrate on truth-seeking and community reconciliation processes. The establishment of truth commissions (commissions of inquiry tasked with the investigation of patterns of past crimes) has often been considered as an alternative to the investigation and prosecution of crimes under international law before national courts. The paper analyses the practice with respect to criminal prosecutions and amnesty of the 40 truth commissions established around the world between 1974 and 2010. (excerpt)


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