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The Fight against Impunity under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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The pronouncements of the Human Rights Committee will be analyzed in order to determine the legal basis for a duty to prosecute human rights violations and whether it is limited to public officials or extends to private perpetrators, too. As will be shown, the question whether States parties are under an obligation to prosecute human rights offenders ultimately depends on whether prosecution is viewed as a mandatory means to protect human rights without alternative. In order to demonstrate how States parties need to deal with human rights violations in detail not only prosecutorial duties but related duties, as the duty to investigate and to provide victims with compensation, will be described. The Human Rights Committee’s pronouncements will be evaluated in order to determine whether there may be an exception from the duty to prosecute human rights violations for the sake of reconciliation.


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