International Justice: Overview
Amnesty International’s Campaign for International Justice demands justice, truth and full reparations for victims of serious human rights violations.
In recent history, millions of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances have been ignored by national authorities.
Victor’s justice, discrimination against victims, damaged justice systems and political efforts to move forward without addressing the past are common reasons for this impunity. The result is that perpetrators have been free to plan and commit horrific crimes safe in the knowledge that they will not be held to account. Victims, their families and their communities have been left to suffer.
In the last two decades, major progress has been made towards reversing this trend of impunity by establishing a new system of international justice to deliver justice to victims and to press national authorities to fulfil their responsibilities:
- A permanent International Criminal Court has been established to investigate and prosecute crimes committed after 1 July 2002.
- Other ad hoc international or internationalized courts have been established in a few situations, including Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Timor Leste.
- A number of national courts have tried persons accused of crimes committed abroad before their national courts and ordered reparations to victims by exercising universal jurisdiction.
The challenge now is to ensure that this new international justice system succeeds in practice.
Amnesty International’s Campaign for International Justice will support international justice in the next crucial years when it is expected that it will face tough tests and political attacks as it challenges the entrenched trends of impunity.
We will campaign for:
- more states to commit themselves to international justice by ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- governments and intergovernmental organizations to provide the International Criminal Court and other courts investigating and prosecuting these crimes with full cooperation and support.
- more national authorities to exercise universal jurisdiction to ensure their countries are not safe havens.
Recognizing that the root cause of impunity lies in the failures of national authorities to act, the Campaign will also demand that those authorities respond to crimes committed in their countries or by their nationals. They must take prompt and effective steps to ensure:
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.
Photo: Amnesty International, 2012