Étienne Jaudel

Justice Without Punishment Preface by Antoine Garapon. Publication date : February 19, 2009

Under the combined influence of terrorism, sexual liberation, drug trafficking, and immigration-linked dramas, it would seem that criminal law is becoming increasingly repressive. Yet at the same time as the trend toward greater harshness has been at work, there has been a parallel liberal current urging the mitigation and even the abolition of punishment. Criminal law thus constantly sways between defence of the social order and respect for the individual. Mass crimes, with their grave human rights abuses and huge number of victims, act as a magnifier of these contradictory demands.

Summary courts, state courts, people's courts, foreign courts, international courts: the recent example of Rwanda, with its overlapping jurisdictions, illustrates the sort of problems that arise following the collapse of regimes guilty of human rights abuses. A new branch of the law has even been created: “transitional justice”.

It is against this background that Truth and Reconciliation Commissions came into existence, first in Africa and later in South America. What purpose do they serve? How do they function? What problems do they help remedy? What has been the outcome of their actions?

This is one of the first French-language studies on transitional justice, and on its attempts to repair the crimes of history.

At a time when the Serbian Radovan Karadzic is on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court, that new cases concerning Darfur are being prosecuted by ICC, and that Rwanda is once more the object of controversy, a human rights activist gives his point of view on an alternative form of justice to prosecute crimes against humanity.

A Parisian lawyer, Etienne Jaudel is the secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and the author of L'aveuglement. L'affaire Kravchenko (2003), Le Théoricien et le militant. Essais sur la peine de mort (2004), La Malédiction du pouvoir. L'Histoire tragique de Mordechaï Chaïm Rumkowski (2005).