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Amnesties in Transition: Punishment, Restoration, and the Governance of Mercy

McEvoy, Kieran and Mallinder, Louise (2012) Amnesties in Transition: Punishment, Restoration, and the Governance of Mercy. Journal of Law and Society, 39 (3). pp. 410-440. [Journal article]

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Despite the much vaunted triumph of human rights, amnesties continue to be a frequently used technique of post-conflict transitional justice. For many critics, they are synonymous with unaccountability and injustice. This article argues that despite the rhetoric, there is no universal duty to prosecute under international law and that issues of selectivity and proportionality present serious challenges to the retributive rationale for punishment in international justice. It contends that many of the assumptions concerning the deterrent effect in the field are also oversold and poorly theorized. It also suggests that appropriately designed restorative amnesties can be both lawful and effective as routes to truth recovery, reconciliation, and a range of other peacemaking goals. Rather than mere instruments of impunity, amnesties should instead be seen as important institutions in the governance of mercy, the reassertion of state sovereignty and, if properly constituted, the return of law to a previously lawless domain.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:amnesty; punishment; transitional justice; deterrence; retribution; restorative justice
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
Faculty of Social Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Transitional Justice Institute
ID Code:22939
Deposited By: Professor Louise Mallinder
Deposited On:21 Aug 2012 08:39
Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 16:04

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