Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 467–477

From Oblivion to Memory: A Blueprint for the Amnesty

Mark Freeman: Necessary Evils: Amnesties and the Search for Justice, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2009, 352 pp, ISBN 978-0-521-89525-5 (hardback)
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11572-012-9168-7

Cite this article as:
Drumbl, M.A. Criminal Law, Philosophy (2012) 6: 467. doi:10.1007/s11572-012-9168-7


This Review Essay examines Mark Freeman’s thoughtful book, Necessary Evils: Amnesties and the Search for Justice. One of the book’s core arguments is that amnesties from criminal prosecution, however unpalatable to liberal legalist sensibilities, should not be entirely purged from the toolbox of post-conflict transitions. Although advancing this argument, Freeman also struggles with it, and ultimately builds a very restrained and heavily technocratic defense of the amnesty. This Review Essay weighs this argument, among others, on its own terms and also within the context of recent events that post-date the book’s publication. The result is a vibrant exposition of the limits of law, and the limits of politics, in transcending episodes of massive human rights violations.


Human rightsInternational crimesPeaceAmnestiesReconciliationJustice

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law, Transnational Law InstituteWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA