Amnesty International’s Campaign for International Justice demands justice, truth and full reparations for victims of serious human rights violations.
There are many reasons people get away with genocide, torture, disappearances and other grotesque human rights abuses.
But two in particular stand out: a lack of political will to investigate and prosecute people suspected of committing crimes, and weak criminal justice systems.
When the dust settles, it is the victors of any conflict who dole out justice and of course, rarely against themselves. Survivors often face discrimination – such as women raped in war. Sometimes the justice system simply no longer exists, or politicians try to “put the past behind” them with amnesties.
Because of this, unspeakable acts can be seen as an inevitable consequence of conflict, as opposed to bad – and preventable – human decisions.
Over 20 years, Amnesty has helped establish a system of international justice, including:
- Campaigning for an International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Promoting “universal jurisdiction” – if someone is accused of a crime, they can be tried anywhere they are found no matter where the offence was committed. The most famous example is the arrest of Augusto Pinochet, ex Chilean dictator, in London in 1998.
- Calling for Ad hoc international courts such as in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Timor Leste.
The challenge now is to ensure that this new international justice system works.
What Amnesty is calling for
There must be no safe havens. Those who commit the worst crimes imaginable, can no longer hide.
All states should show their commitment to international justice by fully cooperating with the International Criminal Court.
Intergovernmental organizations, especially the UN and other regional bodies, should cooperate with the ICC and enforce universal jurisdiction.
States should prosecute, or extradite, anyone suspected of serious crimes under international law.
There are three main concepts underpinning international justice: Justice, Truth and Reparation.
Justice: by investigating all crimes and, when there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecuting the suspects in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty; or extraditing suspects to states able and willing to do so; and
Truth: by establishing and acknowledging the facts about the crimes; and
Full reparation: by taking effective measures to address the suffering of victims and their families caused by the crimes and to help them rebuild their lives.
To ensure that states have in place the tools for justice, we will campaign for governments to review and amend their laws. When national authorities fail to respond genuinely to crimes, Amnesty International will campaign for international justice solutions to ensure that there is no impunity.
The challenges we will confront are significant and the stakes are high. An effective system of international justice could not only mean that victims and their families have access to justice, truth and reparations when these crimes are committed, but also that those planning to commit such crimes may think twice before they act.
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