Amnesty and Retribution

University of Illinois Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Public Affairs Quarterly, 2018, 32 (2), pp. 119 - 139
Issue Date:
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This paper addresses the relationship between amnesty granted to perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and retributivism. It rebuts arguments advanced by Dan Markel and Lucy Allais in support of their claim that the granting of conditional amnesty – amnesty in exchange for perpetrators’ confessing to, and disclosing the details of, their wrongdoing – by the South African Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) was consistent with retributivism. Markel contends that conditional amnesty was perfectly in line with recipients’ desert, while Allais submits that the TRC secured as much retribution as was possible in the circumstances of South Africa’s democratic transition. The argument of the paper is that, while retributivists have good reasons to view conditional amnesty as justified, the reasons provided by Markel and Allais are not among them.
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