n Malawi Law Journal - Smokescreens - a survey of the evolving trends in amnesty laws in Africa and Latin America

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1996-7675



While conceding that amnesty laws may contribute to peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in societies that have just emerged from internal armed conflict, this article argues that such laws cannot be used to exclude criminal responsibility for international and other serious crimes. Rather than casting the possible solutions to past human rights abuses as a binary opposition between peace and justice, it contends that these objectives can and should be pursued in tandem. Large scale prosecutions may undermine efforts at peace; blanket amnesties are equally not conducive to peace. Although amnesty laws have been used widely both in Africa and Latin America, these laws have generated more jurisprudence in the Inter-American human rights system than in the African human rights system. Drawing on this jurisprudence, this article argues that the African Union should step up its efforts in combating impunity and holding perpetrators of international crimes accountable within Africa and in collaboration with the International Criminal Court, if lasting peace on the continent is to be secured.

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