Mechanisms complementing prosecution
31-03-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 845, by Laura Olson
Prosecution - holding perpetrators accountable - demonstrates the principle that respect for the law takes precedence over political decisions. Failure to prosecute promotes a culture of impunity and denies what some consider as the most effective deterrent to future repression. However, even where there is the political will to prosecute, common problems mean that few trials take place and limit the role a properly functioning judicial system can play in reconciliation and in a transition to peace or to a non-repressive regime.
In such cases it is best to complement prosecution with ot her mechanisms. This article briefly describes the most important of those complementary mechanisms: truth commissions, lustration, reparations and customary methods.