Despite public demand, the political repression exerted under communism has gone largely unpunished. How is this possible? This lecture examines the historical, legal, and political context that led to this dissatisfying situation, as well as possible remedies.
Almost all political repression committed under communism has remained unpunished due to expired statutes of limitation (typically twenty years). The category of crimes against humanity, however, which eliminates any statute of limitation because of its retroactive character, would appear as an ideal tool to restore a measure of justice. Why, then, have historians and jurists generally ignored it? This project analyzes the complex issues that such a resort would bring to the fore. It shows that the necessity of preserving the continuity of the state and of preventing the failure of the democratic process has overdetermined policies of dealing with the past. The minutiae of an elaborate judicial process, which were potentially explosive for the new elites, were sacrificed to the political success of the revolution.
Muriel Blaive was a recent EURIAS Senior Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna (2018–19) and is otherwise based at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (Prague). She is a socio-political historian ofpostwar, communist, and post-communist Central Europe, in particular of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. She is currently IFK_Senior Fellow.
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