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Criminal Law

2009

Journal

Michigan Journal of International Law

Atrocities

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Failures To Punish: Command Responsibility In Domestic And International Law, Amy J. Sepinwall Jan 2009

Failures To Punish: Command Responsibility In Domestic And International Law, Amy J. Sepinwall

Michigan Journal of International Law

This Article embraces one of two contested understandings of what a failure to punish entails. On the first understanding, a military commander's failure to punish is construed solely as a dereliction of duty. Accordingly, his failure to punish constitutes a separate offense from the underlying atrocity that his troops have committed. The failure to punish is, then, a substantive offense in its own right. On a second understanding, for which I argue here, the failure to punish renders the commander criminally liable for the atrocity itself, even if he neither ordered nor even knew about the atrocity before its occurrence. …