Rethinking Amnesty and Clemency in Countries in Transition
Amnesty, stemming from the Greek word amnestia, is an act of clemency extended by a legislative body, usually a parliament, issued with the aim of pardoning a group or a class of individuals for certain types of crimes. Once part of a single legal system, the countries of the former Yugoslavia have developed independent legislative frameworks and practices related to amnesty and pardon as instruments of mercy. The conditions under which amnesty will be given also depend on these principles, as well as the needs within the given system, but may not contravene either national or binding international law. In the case of Croatia, the issue of amnesty has been raised in the context of the double jeopardy clause within the European Convention on Human Rights before the European Court of Human Rights. Margus v Croatia is a case affirming the importance of criminal proceedings and sentencing enforcement over earlier amnesty schemes.