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Event discusses outlawing amnesty

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Human rights violations and amnesty are the focus of a Valparaiso University School of Law event next week.

Visiting assistant professor of law at Marquette University Law School Lisa J. Laplante will discuss the tension in international human rights law and international criminal law with respect to amnesties. She'll address the issue through the Barrios Altos case, a decision issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2001 that declared unlawful Peru's amnesty laws promulgated in 1995.

Laplante draws on her experiences in Peru to show that international law directly impacts national transitional justice experiences, and argues criminal justice should be carried out rather than granting amnesty.

Until recently, in countries seeking to address past episodes of systematic human rights violations, amnesties were considered an acceptable means of promoting transitional justice, which meant human rights perpetrators went unpunished. In response, truth commissions became a popular alternative to criminal trials. International criminal law lawyers questioned the legality of the resulting amnesties and eventually carved out exceptions for certain international crimes. This discourse suggests it's still possible for nations to resort to amnesties for serious human rights violations during political transitions, and thus impunity.

The event, "Outlawing Amnesty," is from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. CST Nov. 9 in the Ulbricht Classroom in the law school. It's free and open to the public.

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