Amnesty and peace agreements as alternative means to prosecution in international law: a critical analysis of African experience

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Mzumbe University
Since the mid 1970s, at least 14 states on fours continents have declared amnesty, or enacted amnesty laws immunizing past regimes from accountability and liability.1 Packaged into post-conflict peace agreements, amnesties are ceded by war-weary parties and often endorsed by an international community keen for peace. The aim of this dissertation was to explore African States‟ practice in introducing amnesty laws packaged into post-conflict peace agreements, to perpetrators of atrocities. In so doing, it starts by asking the following questions; are there certain general patterns that should be followed in making the choices that will guide the transitional justice process? And what condition should be followed? Can negotiations with the main perpetrators of large-scale human rights violations bring peace closer? The study found that a post-conflict society has a legal obligation to prosecute and punish the perpetrators, simply because retribution is exactly what most victims of past atrocities want. And indeed, it serves to heal their wounds and to restore their self-confidence because it publicly acknowledges who was right and who was wrong and, hence, clears the victims of any labels of „criminal‟ that were placed on them by the authorities of the past or, indeed, by rebel groups or the new elites. However, it is prudence to consider whether punishment is the appropriate response in any and every context. In fact that at the end of a period of violent repression calls for rebuilding the political machinery and the civil service, security, disarming rebel movements, reorganizing the army, rebuilding infrastructure, establishing a non-partisan judiciary, healing the victims, repairing the damage inflicted on them. These cannot be achieved by prosecuting perpetrators because prosecutions are unlikely to further tasks of national forgiveness and, thus, future peace. Therefore, having found that the researcher examining the possibility of employing Article 53, 17 and 16 of the Rome Statute that seems to allow amnesties to operate. Finally, the study recommends the application of multiple legal mechanisms to bring about accountability and reconciliation in post-conflict transitional societies.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for award of the Degree of Master of Laws (LL.M, International Law) of Mzumbe University
Customary Law, Transitional Justice, The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1995 (TRC Act), Act 200 of 1993 (The Interim Constitution of 1993), International Crime