Amnesty, Peace and Reconciliation in Algeria

Amnesties constitute the most contentious issue in transitional justice processes. While largely rejected for contravening international law and being morally objectionable, political realities may sometimes force us to accept them in the interest of peace and stability. Determinations about the desirability and effectiveness of amnesties to promote peace thus need to look beyond legalistic claims, and take into account the specific political context within a country, as well as the nature of the amnesty itself. Taking the case of Algeria, where an amnesty was adopted in 2005 with the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, this article argues that although the amnesty can be justified partially by the fragile political context in Algeria and may contribute to reducing levels of violence in the country, its effective contribution to peace and reconciliation will be limited because it has, so far, not been accompanied by other political and economic measures necessary to bring peace and stability to the country, and because it promotes amnesia and largely ignores the plight of the victims of the war.

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