Michael Gerson is correct that impunity breeds more egregious human rights atrocities [“Turning our backs on atrocities,” op-ed, Aug. 1].

Impunity allows perpetrators’ actions to go unchecked with no deterrent to discourage potential violators. Impunity also denies justice to the victims of human rights violations, leaving them feeling abandoned and vulnerable to future incidents.

Accountability, including criminal prosecutions and appropriate punishments at a national, regional or international level, is essential. Unfortunately, crimes against humanity persist as the accountability mechanisms and the political will to utilize them have not kept pace.

Through our work extending care to Syrian refugees in Jordan, we see how impunity impinges on the healing process and prevents the full restoration of dignity to victims. Human rights advocates and governments must ensure that evidence of human rights violations leads to action and that those responsible for committing and ordering these crimes are held accountable.

Curt Goering, St. Paul, Minn.

The writer is executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture.