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7 Interdisc. J. Hum. Rts. L. 69 (2012-2013)
How Do Human Rights Prosecutions Improve Human Rights after Transition

handle is hein.journals/ijhrl7 and id is 69 raw text is: HOW DO HUMAN RIGHTS PROSECUTIONS IMPROVE
Hun Joon Kim and Kathryn Sikkink*
Human rights prosecutions are one of the main policy innova-
tions transitional regimes use to address past human rights vio-
lations and to prevent future ones. In this article, the authors
found that not only those prosecutions that resulted in conviction,
but also broader prosecution processes themselves, are associat-
ed with improvements in future human rights conditions.' The
authors found that human rights prosecutions are especially ef-
fective in deterring future torture cases and that even those pros-
ecutions that ended in acquittals correlate with a lower incidence
of torture. The authors also found that prosecutions and convic-
tions of high-level state officials appear to have a stronger deter-
rent effect than prosecutions and convictions of low-level officials.
In addition, high-level prosecutions and convictions are associat-
ed with improvements in a wider range of physical integrity
rights. This study shows that high-level prosecutions correlate
with a lower incidence of extrajudicial killing as well as the use of
Keywords: human rights prosecution, transitional justice, deter-
rence effect, conviction, acquittal
Human rights prosecutions are one of the main policy innovations
transitional regimes use to address past human rights violations
and to prevent future ones. Since the 198os, there has been a
dramatic increase in the demand for individual criminal accountability of
state officials for past human rights violations-a phenomenon that Lutz
and Sikkink term the Justice Cascade.2 However, recent empirical stud-
ies have not been able to resolve fully a decade-long debate over the effects
* Hun Joon Kim is a senior research fellow at Griffith Asia Institute/Centre for
Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, Australia. Kathryn Sikkink is Regents
Professor in the Political Science Department and Affiliated Professor of Law at the
University of Minnesota, United States.
This paper uses data gathered with the support of the National Science Foundation
under Grant No. 0961226. The data analyzed here is the result of phase one of the NSF
project, still using country trial year data and not the final prosecution data, which records
individual prosecutions. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations
expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the University of Minnesota or those of the National Science Foundation. This work was also
supported by the Australian Research Council (DE12o1olo26). The authors wish to thank
Megan Johnson for her research assistance.
CHANGINT WORLD POLITICS (2011); Ellen Lutz & Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade: The
Evolution and Impact of Foreign Human Rights Trials in Latin America, 2 CHI. J. INT'L L. 1

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