Time and the Visibility of Slow Atrocity Violence

In: International Criminal Law Review
Randle C. DeFalcoWilliam S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘iat Mānoa, 2515 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822-2350, USA,

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This article explores the role of time in obfuscating the criminality of international crimes committed through the cumulative effects of various actions that, on their own, appear banal and seemingly non-criminal in nature. It demonstrates how assessments of individual culpability continue to predominantly focus on the identification of discrete transactions that are intuitively recognizable as criminal in nature. This approach helps perpetuate the obfuscation of the criminality of slow, unfamiliar atrocity processes lacking easily identifiable moments of criminality. The selective recognition of atrocity crimes in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge period and post-independence Myanmar are analyzed as examples of this failure to recognize the criminality of international crimes committed through slow, attritive means.

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