Trauma, Retribution, and Forgiveness: Should War Criminals Go Free?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the possible moral grounds for releasing war criminals in the aftermath of a traumatic political conflict. It reports that forgiveness can justify an exception to retributive punishment only where there is repentance and reconciliation. It is noted that some terrorists might need to be released to advance peace and reconciliation does not at all mean that all of them ought to be released. Neglecting the punishment of war criminals can cause damage to the process of overcoming individual and collective trauma caused by rape, torture, and the intentional killing of the innocent. Repentance makes forgiveness and amnesty morally acceptable and dampens the possible harmful effects of amnesty on the ability of the victims to overcome their trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrauma and Memory
Subtitle of host publicationReading, Healing, and Making Law
EditorsAustin Sarat, Nadav Davidovitch, Michal Alberstein
Place of PublicationStanford
PublisherStanford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780804768122
ISBN (Print)9780804754057
StatePublished - Jan 2008


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