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Truth Commission Amnesties and the International Criminal Court.

Roche, Declan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) British Journal of Criminology. May. 17pp.

Truth commissions and the new International Criminal Court (ICC) appear to be very different
mechanisms for dealing with human rights abuses: the primary purpose of a truth commission is to
compile an accurate record of what happened, whereas the ICC is designed to punish individual
perpetrators. This article considers how these two institutions will interact, and, more specifically,
how the ICC Prosecutor will deal with perpetrators who have been granted amnesties by a truth
commission in return for divulging their crimes. The ICC Statute, which contains the powers of the
Court and the Prosecutor, fails to provide the ICC Prosecutor with any clear guidance on this
question. On one interpretation it supports a prosecutorial policy that completely ignores amnesties,
but on another, it supports the Prosecutor who decides to work cooperatively with those truth commissions
that are able to demonstrate their legitimacy. Under a cooperative approach the Prosecutor
would delay bringing any prosecutions until a truth commission has completed its work and then
prosecute individuals from the pool who had not been granted amnesties. Such an approach could
bolster the legitimacy of the ICC, by providing a principled basis for the exercise of prosecutorial
discretion, and assist truth commissions, by encouraging more perpetrators of serious crimes to
apply for amnesties, and, in the process, divulge their secrets. Author’s abstract.


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