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Publication Date


Publication Title

Denver Journal of International Law and Policy


amnesty, national courts, international tribunals, truth commissions, impunity


This Article will focus on the issue of accountability under the existing international law and will address the following question: Is there a duty to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses? Furthermore, if there is such a duty, what are its precise contours, its reach and its limits? Can amnesty laws and truth commissions ever be legal despite the evolving body of human rights law that seems to dictate the absolute assurance of those rights? Part I of this Article will examine the existing accountability mechanisms, while evaluating their respective strengths and weaknesses. Part II will focus on the existing state practice regarding amnesty laws in the context of two different political and geographic paradigms, Latin America and South Africa. Part III will study the international documents and customs imposing legal obligations on states to provide for effective accountability measures. Finally, Part IV will seek to define particular circumstances under which amnesty provisions and truth commissions do or do not fulfill the global mandates of justice as it relates to individual responsibility. Do amnesty laws provide for de facto impunity, or do they represent effective methods of achieving a legitimate form of accountability while preserving internal peace and stability?