Accountability for amnesty
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Amnesties are evidently contentious issues. The issue of immunity and impunity is significant in the peace versus justice debate. What this thesis attempts is to explain the grant of amnesty as a legally permissible exception from the norm that those who commits crimes are to be punished – the very premise of punitive law. The demand is ever more so in respect of those crimes most atrocious. It approaches the topic from a legal rather than a moral perspective. Analysing the grant of amnesty through the perspective of legal obligation, the paper seeks to demonstrate that this is the first question to ask, by reference to the fact that, if logically inconsistent with the legal system prevailing, any amnesty will lack legal validity. And legal validity is the key both to the grant of amnesty and equally can inform on the same arguments its rescission. In order to demonstrate thus amnesties legal validity, it is necessary the paper contends to first consider the question of obligation and to do so from the historical perspective of the Roman legal maxim that underlie existing legal regimes, domestic and international. It then turns, by reference to Kant to the notion of permissive laws and how such are properly considered contingent exceptions. The paper then turns to its core chapter on deontic logic, where it seeks to demonstrate the logical consistency of amnesty with legal norms and systems. And finally illustrates the manner in which amnesty acts as a derogation with only provisional effect on the validity of individual norms rather than negating the norm of punitive law per se. In conclusion the paper argues that by virtue of utilising contemporary legal notions of purposive interpretation, we can properly limit the scope and application of amnesty by reference to and only to its legal validity.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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