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Genocide and Justice

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Political Science

Jan. 10 , 2011 Genocide and Justice Genocide: committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Occurs by: • Killing members of a particular group • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group • Forcibly transferring children of one group to another group *Acts directed against political groups are excluded from the definition of genocide 1) Crimes Against Humanity The Charter of the International Military Tribunal, passed in 1945, described these atrocities as customary international crimes that justify international criminal sanctions: • Murder • Enslavement • Deportation • Imprisonment • Torture • Rape, or other inhumane acts • Committed 2) War crimes or violations of the laws and customs of war, namely: • Murder • Ill-treatment • Deportation for slave labor or for any other purposes of the civilian population of or in occupied territory Nuremberg Trials • Deliberate, unintentional, mass killings of a group of people during the Holocaust • Created in an ad-hoc way, there was no internal institution • Fundamental body of basic law that governs discussions of genocide and crimes against humanity Difference between War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity One instance of a reprehensible act could be a war crime, but not a crime against humanity. The latter must be shown to have resulted from widespread and systematic policy. Also crimes against humanity (e.g. destruction of property and systematic persecution).. The objections most frequently raised against the convention on genocide include: • The convention excludes targeted political and social groups • Proving intention beyond a reasonable doubt is extremely difficult • The difficulty of defining or measuring “in part,” and establishing how many deaths equal genocide Precedents 1) The trial of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg.. The Nuremberg laws marked a fundamental change in international law: governments could be held accountable for actions against their own citizenry of those under control 2) The trials emphasized the duty to prosecute and punish, so as: I. To preserve the collective memory of those who were killed; to MEMORIALIZE II. To create a collective and objective HISTORY of what had happened; and III. To create as effective DETTERENT • State sovereignty does not trump everything (States have a responsibility to their own state, as well as others) • No longer an adequate principal when other states must intervene Responsibilities of Individual States 1) Even after they have been defeated and replaced, the perpetrators of past crimes may still wield considerable political power 2) Even after democratic elections, the military who was responsible for genocide or crimes against humanity may still control available weapons and force 3) Past perpetrators of abuses may still command the loyalty of significant parts of the population; prosecution may threaten civil war… QUESTION: How should emerging democracies address the atrocities of their recent past, when the perpetrators still wield considerable political or military power? A truth commission is: • A temporary body, • Set up by an official authority (president, parliament) to • Investigate a pattern of gross human rights violations committed over a period of time in the past, with a view to, • Issuing a public report, which includes, • Victims’ data and recommendations for justice and reconciliation *Contradictory: justice for the victim also implies punishment for the perpetrator Test Case: Argentina Under a military government in the 1970s from 9,000-30,000 persons are estimated to have disappeared in the war against subversion: • Referred to as “El Proceso” or the “Dirty War” • The loss to the UK in the Falklands War of 1982 discredited the military and led to changes
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