Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

By Nancy Amoury Combs | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Applying Restorative Principles in the
Aftermath of Different Atrocities
A Contextual Approach

I began this book with the observation that financial constraints will in most instances prevent the prosecution of the vast majority of international criminals unless alternatives to full-scale trials are utilized. I continued by exploring the benefits of prosecuting a larger proportion of offenders and identifying plea bargaining as a means of effecting more prosecutions without increasing the overall financial costs of the prosecutorial endeavor. I then examined in more detail the value of plea bargaining in the context of international crimes, and in particular, I constructed a model guilty-plea system that would aim both to increase the number of prosecutions that can take place and to enhance peace-building and reconciliation efforts. Such a guilty-plea system would seek simultaneously to advance retributory and restorative goals. This chapter will explore the different balances between restoration and retribution that might optimally be struck for different atrocities.

Advancing both retributive and restorative goals can be of considerable value to societies emerging from widespread violence, but those goals conflict when it comes to resource allocation. A guilty-plea system aiming solely to increase the number of criminal prosecutions, for instance, would permit guilty pleas to be entered with the most minimal inquiry consistent with due-process standards, and it would seek to obtain from defendants only the information and testimony likely to be useful in subsequent prosecutions. By contrast, if guilty pleas are to advance truth-telling in a broader sense, and other restorative-justice values such as victim participation, offender reintegration, and individual and societal

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