Friday, March 13, 2009

Extermination and genocide in law

There is a contradiction between the [International Criminal Court] judges' allowing of the charge of "extermination" (as a "crime against humanity") against Sudanese government forces and their rejection of the genocide charge. If there is reasonable evidence to suggest that Sudanese forces pursued a policy of extermination against some Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, then this is surely prima facie support - even on a narrow "physical" definition of group destruction - for the charge of genocide against these groups "in part" (as the convention puts it).

In the end, however, the judges' key argument centres on the same point that the [International Court of Justice] used to reject (with the exception of Srebrenica) the claim that Serbian forces had committed genocide in Bosnia: the existence of a "special intention" for genocide... This rarefied legal concept of intention means that courts feel able to reject genocide claims even when the perpetrators manifestly intended to destroy the "enemy" society in whole or part, and even when they have attempted to physically exterminate some of its people.
-- from Sudan, the ICC and genocide: a fateful decision by Martin Shaw

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