Human Rights Watch: The Issue of Amnesties


Jesica Santos
Radosh Piletich
Monica Paz,
Bonnie Nezaj
Kellie McDaniel
Micheal Hill

Human Rights Watch

The goal of this inquiry is to analyze whether or not there can be peace and reconciliation in cases where conflict and massive civil strife were followed by blanket amnesties which included crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights. The following case studies examine what took place in three different countries – Cambodia, Chile, and Mozambique – each of which experienced violent domestic conflict and massive human rights violations. The three countries analyzed in this inquiry represent not only a geographical and cultural diversity, but also a diversity in types of conflict and social strife, as well as a great complexity of local factors contributing to peacemaking, transition, and pathways toward reconciliation. One of the conflicts here was a thoroughly internationalized and internalized clash entailing atrocities of genocidal proportions, another was an internal convulsion resulting from a power struggle between radically opposed ideological positions, and another was a post-colonial civil war turned mass-atrocity that left its country the poorest on earth. The Cambodian case focuses on amnesties issued in relation to a peace process designed to forge a stable, just, and peaceful state. The Chilean case focuses on an amnesty granted by a dictatorship in perhaps the most archetypal military coup in Latin America. The Mozambican case focuses on the gruesome human rights atrocities committed during its sixteen-year civil war, and the subsequent peace agreement and amnesty that ended the conflict.