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Truth Commission Amnesties and the International Criminal Court

Roche, Declan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) British Journal of Criminology. 45(4):565 — 581.

In South Africa’s attempt to deal with human rights abuses the International Criminal Court (ICC) was created to punish individual perpetrators. In addition to the ICC, truth commissions were established to compile an accurate record of what happened. Both the truth commissions and the ICC appear to be very different mechanisms for dealing with human rights abuses. This article considers how these two institutions will interact and how the ICC prosecutor will deal with perpetrators who have been granted amnesties by a truth commission in return for divulging their crimes. The article is divided into four parts. Part 1 describes the emergence of both international criminal tribunals and truth commissions. Part 2 examines the ICC statute to determine how the court might deal with truth commissions granting individuals amnesties from prosecution in order to persuade them to participate in the commission. Part 3 shows how truth commissions and trials share a number of aims in common. Part 4 suggests criteria that could be used by the prosecutor and pretrial chamber to determine whether or not to cooperate with a particular truth commission. Truth commissions and the ICC need not conflict. They could adopt a cooperative approach to the worst human rights abuses under which the ICC would work with states to prosecute perpetrators who fail to satisfy the conditions for the granting of a truth commission amnesty. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.


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