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Commissioning justice: Truth commissions and criminal justice.

Amnesty International, Jeremy
June 4, 2015

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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