Notes # 26 reading

Notes # 26 reading - Twilight of Impunity for Africa's...

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Twilight of Impunity for Africa's Presidential Criminals Bruce Baker This article tracks the fate of six former African tyrants all accused of crimes against humanity: o There is a long tradition of the worst of men (sic) retiring to levels of foreign comfort and safety that are denied the best o Since 1960 a number of former dictators have been brought to justice including Bokassa of the Central African Republic; Meza of Bolivia; Galtieri of Argentina; Honecker of East Germany; Zhivkov of Bulgaria; and Noriega of Panama. o Nations, too, are signing up to the UN Convention against Torture. o The ICJ saw the purpose of international law as being to facilitate relations between states, rather than to give effect to shared values, such as ending impunity for serious international crimes. A number of legal difficulties stand in the way. o There is no uniform definition of what exactly is considered a crime against humanity. The category was invented during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945, since the existing concept of War Crimes only applied to acts against an enemy group. Nuremberg tried military and civilian Axis leaders whose alleged crimes were directed at more than one national group. Crimes against humanity, according to Customary International Law and the ICTY/ICTR statutes, are crimes committed in armed conflict but directed against a civilian population. This could include murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation; imprisonment; torture; mass systematic rape and sexual enslavement; and persecution on political, racial or religious grounds. Countries differ both on the actions deemed to fall within the definition and on the required scale, gravity and planned pattern behind the commission of those crimes. o The second legal barrier to prosecuting ex-tyrants is extradition, the process by which a person charged with or convicted of a crime under the law of one state, is arrested in another state and returned for trial or punishment. In many cases extradition treaties do not exist and even when they do the process is very complex, since the conditions under which extradition may be granted vary widely. Some countries are prohibited by their constitutions from extraditing their nationals; and others refuse extradition unless the requesting state provides assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed or carried out. o A third legal barrier is presidential immunity, that is, the traditional exemption of heads of state from prosecution despite the evidence of a case to answer. There is not even agreement on the nature of the precedents set by international customs. The notion increasingly holds sway that when an atrocity is committed the international community has a responsibility to ensure that somebody is tried for it. The right of international jurisdiction now claims to be able to trump any right of immunity held by state officials. Liberian president, Charles Taylor
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course IR 109 taught by Professor Heinz during the Spring '10 term at Rochester.

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Notes # 26 reading - Twilight of Impunity for Africa's...

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