Prosecutions for abuses and gross violations of human rights

Yusuf, Hakeem O. (2022). Prosecutions for abuses and gross violations of human rights. In: Yusuf, Hakeem O. and Van Der Merwe, Hugo eds. Transitional Justice: Theories, Mechanisms and Debates. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 76–94.



Prosecution has been described as 'by far the most radical interpretation of acknowledgment and accountability. Prosecutions for gross violations of human rights have occurred at the national, and even more prominently, international level. This chapter focuses on prosecutions for gross violations of human rights arising from violent conflict or repressive governance situations. It examines the significance of trials as an expression of the increasing application of international criminal justice to the experience of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, in addition to its application to domestic prosecutions. The first part of the chapter focuses on the historical context of prosecutions as a transitional justice mechanism, specifically the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals. The next part examines the reasons for the use of prosecutions as well as the challenges this approach faces as a transitional justice mechanism. Current scholarly debates favours the position that truth and justice do not have to be mutually exclusive constructs.

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