U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Query

What experiences of using amnesties for corruption exist? What have been the outcomes and conditions of success of such initiatives?

Summary

The use of amnesties – whether for human rights abuses or corruption – is a politically controversial measure that is often perceived as fueling impunity and undermining the rule of law. Amnesties are predominantly used for human right abuses in post-conflict contexts to foster stability and ensure a non-violent political transition. Although there have been recent examples in countries such as Tunisia, Moldova and Romania, using amnesties for economic crimes and corruption is exceptional, politically sensitive and usually met with massive resistance.

Contents

  1. Potential risks and benefits of using amnesties for corruption
  2. Forms of amnesties
  3. Experiences of using amnesties for corruption
  4. Conditions of success for granting amnesties
  5. References

Main points

  • The use of amnesties is a politically controversial measure, which is primarily considered for human rights abuses in the sensitive context of political transition or regime change.
  • The use of amnesties for economic crimes, such as corruption is exceptional, politically sensitive and usually met with massive resistance in most countries.
  • There have been recent controversial examples of countries granting amnesties for corruption in Tunisia, Moldova, Romania, Nigeria among others.
  • A number of conditions and safeguards need to be considered when using amnesties to balance accountability with stability and peaceful political transitions.

Authors

Marie Chene, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers

Roberto Martinez B. Kukutschka, Transparency International, Sophie Lemaître, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

Date

05/06/2020

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