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Amnesty Law in South Africa: Assertion of an Amnesty Exception to the General Prohibition of Crimes against Humanity

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Chapter Summary

In light of the South African experience, this chapter attempts to examine the legal status of amnesty nationally in respect of the core crimes under international law. This is done by arguing that in most cases national objectives of reconciliation as well as national laws are heavily relied upon as a yardstick in the process of assessing the lawfulness of amnesty legislation, whereas recourse to international law is made in a selective manner so as to advance immediate national interests. The chapter contends that any evaluation of the lawfulness of amnesty with respect to core crimes such as war crimes, genocide, terrorism, torture and crimes against humanity should not disregard the importance of international law, which is an integrated system of law that does not only prohibit the commission of such crimes, but also reject all forms of exception to the prohibition thereof.

Keywords: genocide; humanity; international law; South Africa; terrorism; war crimes



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